Masked Panther: Legend hits the road again

Royce hits the road

Panthers legend Royce Simmons is currently in the midst of his second major fundraising walk.

The walk kicked off on Tuesday with 1991 Grand Final teammate Brad Fittler in Dubbo to help get the event underway.

A number of other NRL legends have already walked alongside Simmons this week including Nigel Plum, Garry Jack and Terry Lamb.

Simmons will finish Royce’s Big Walk on Saturday, April 29 when he walks into Carrington Park for Penrith’s clash against the Wests Tigers in Bathurst. For more details and to donate to dementia research, visit

Team List Tuesday moves

With two games being played on Tuesday for ANZAC Day, team lists for Round 9 won’t be released in the usual manner next week. Team List Tuesday will become Team List Wednesday, with team lists to be released at 11am on Wednesday, April 26.

NRL backs hair pull penalty

The over-the-top response to the penalty against Tyson Frizell for pulling Jarome Luai’s hair, accident or otherwise, has been ridiculous. Somehow, Luai has even been blamed for the situation in some corners.

On Monday, NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley backed the decision by Peter Gough to penalise Frizell.

“The referee has been quite heavily criticised for this decision but I just don’t know what else the referee could have done,” he said.

“I get the argument, the hair is long… but we can’t have a rule that says if you have long hair, it’s OK to pull the hair. If the referee doesn’t act on that then there’s complaints about the referee not acting on a player getting his hair pulled.”

Luai was embracing all the chatter, playing it up for the Weekender cameras at training on Tuesday.

Jarome Luai having some fun on Tuesday. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Martin set to extend

The Panthers have a clear intent to wrap up as many key players as possible until the end of the 2027 season. Next in line is Liam Martin, who signed a one year extension late last year but now appears to have come to terms on a longer deal. Expect it to be announced in the next few weeks.


Want some free WiFi at McDonald Jones Stadium? I couldn’t help but notice the media WiFi password was in clear view on a printed out A4 piece of paper whenever the camera panned to Panthers coach Ivan Cleary in the box last Saturday.


Panthers co-captain Nathan Cleary doing a spot of juggling in the sheds ahead of Penrith’s game against Newcastle last Saturday.

Coach goes early

It’s a requirement for NRL coaches to hold a media conference in the lead-up to a game each week, but the timing of that opportunity is up to the club. Interestingly, Ivan Cleary opted to hold his press conference ahead of the Souths game on Monday at 9am.

This year, Cleary has often tried to schedule media events outside of team training times – taking things a little more behind closed doors this season.


Jarome Luai and his lushing locks proving popular in Newcastle, with the five-eighth snapping selfies with Penrith fans.

Jarome Luai with fans. Photo: NRL Images.

Luai, Edwards debate pointless

The suggestion that Penrith may have to choose between keeping Jarome Luai or Dylan Edwards was news to the Panthers. This is a media story with no real substance; both players are keen to stay and are in Penrith’s long-term plans.

It’s not news to the club that both are off-contract at the end of next year and could command big dollars elsewhere. But with both having a strong desire to stay in Penrith and potentially even accepting less than what they could get on the open market, Penrith remain pretty confident that they can re-sign both.

Touching photo

This is the photo that brought a huge smile to the NRL community last weekend. Courageous Panthers fan Emma, who is battling serious illness, was thrilled to get a photo with the Panthers in Newcastle last Saturday.

Co-captain Nathan Cleary also signed some merchandise for the inspiring youngster.

Panthers fans with Emma, who is battling illness.

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Push for high COVID test numbers continues

As greater Sydney deals with an extended lockdown, high rates of testing are critical in detecting transmission to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The community is being reminded that there are different COVID-19 testing clinics around the Penrith Local Government Area to get tested easily.

The Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) operates several COVID-19 testing clinics in the region, including the drive-through clinic at the Regatta Centre which is open 9am to 4pm, seven days a week.

The walk-in clinic at Nepean Hospital also operates every day between 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm.

NBMLHD Director of Public Health, Dr Victor Carey said it is vital for residents to be following the rules.

“At this time, it’s incredibly important that everyone follows the Public Health Orders by staying home unless absolutely necessary,” Dr Carey said.

“People who don’t know they’re infected may be out in the community unknowingly spreading the virus.”

Dr Carey said people should be getting tested early to protect anyone they may potentially come in contact with.

“It is critical that people get tested for even the mildest of cold and flu symptoms and isolate until receiving a negative result,” he said.

“Don’t delay getting a test as you could unknowingly infect those closest to you, in your household, at work and elsewhere.”

In addition to the health district run clinics, the Penrith Douglas Hanly Moir Pathology drive-through clinic near Mulgoa and Union Road is now operating all week and on weekends from 8am to 6pm.

The Kingswood Clinical Labs Pathology drive-through clinic on Bringelly Road is another location for tests, open 8am to 5pm from Monday to Sunday.

To have a set appointment time, Penrith Respiratory Clinic on Wolseley Street, Jamisontown takes bookings for Monday to Friday between 9am to 1pm.

Cranebrook Koolyangarra drive-through clinic is available for tests on Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm.

For those that need longer hours, Penrith Laverty Pathology drive-through clinic on Doonmore Street is open seven days, from 8am to 8pm.

St Marys Laverty Pathology drive-through clinic on Forrester Road is also open from 8am to 8pm every day of the week.

For full clinic details visit

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NRL admits crucial decisions were wrong

The NRL has admitted The Bunker got it wrong when it awarded Warriors winger David Fusitu’a a try in the 42nd minute of yesterday’s clash with Penrith in Auckland.

Replays showed Fusitu’a had put his hand into touch before grounding the ball over the line, but The Bunker awarded the try and handed the Warriors a 16-6 lead. Penrith fought back to win 19-18.

“That was an error. In some ways… not an understandable error, but you can see why that was missed in the first instance,” NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley said.

Annesley said there was enough evidence available to rule no-try.

Annesley also confirmed that Jarome Luai should not have been sent to the sin-bin for an incident involving Roger Tuivasa-Sheck early in the second half.

“Given that it’s not a try-scoring situation it should not have been considered a professional foul that resulted in the sin-bin,” he said.

Annesley did not indicate if the officials would suffer any penalty as a result of the embarrassing decisions.

“There’s no real answer I can give you about why they are missed,” he said of the Bunker’s mistakes.

Annesley also confirmed that Penrith’s Liam Martin returned from the sin bin too early due to “human error”, with the matter under investigation.