Brandy on Panthers crisis: ‘There is no drama out there’
PENRITH legend and insider Greg Alexander denies there's any unrest or ill feeling among the playing group at the Panthers, saying the recent exodus of big-name stars is part and parcel of rugby league.
And he claims the side underperformed in 2017 as a result of a number of players not pulling their weight.
Former captain Matt Moylan walked out on the club four months ago to join Cronulla, and has been followed out the door by Bryce Cartwright who jumped ship to Gold Coast last week.
Their exits came despite the fact both players signed long-term extensions only last season.
Leilani Latu has also left the club, while utility Tyrone Peachey is poised to sign to a deal with the Titans. He could yet be released from his contract at the foot of the mountains before it expires at the end of the 2019 season.
The mass movement has led to speculation factions of the playing group are unhappy with coach Anthony Griffin.
It's a claim Penrith boss Phil Gould would not be drawn on last week when speaking on radio.
And now Alexander, a board member who also works at the club as a halves consultant under Griffin, has emphatically denied the rumours.
"It's no different out there. There is no drama out there ... at all," Alexander said.
"The group is good. Obviously it was a bit of a shock to see Bryce move on to the Gold Coast but footballers are pretty resilient, they just get on with the job.
"I know it's painted that way, and from the outside looking in you see Moylan just departed, then Bryce Cartwright and they both recently signed long-term deals at Penrith, so I can understand it looks like there's some problems out there.
"But if you went out there, if you spent a week at Penrith you would realise that there's not."
Unrest or not, Alexander acknowledges the Panthers underperformed on the field last year.
They were billed as premiership favourites pre-season but won just two of their opening nine games in a capitulation that stunned many punters.
They recovered to finish the season in seventh place, and won a final before being bundled out in week two.
Alexander admits the weight of expectation may have played a part in their disappointing start to the year.
But he hopes the experience gained in 2017 can lay the platform for a more successful campaign this year.
He says every player must buy in to coach Griffin's set-up to fulfil that potential. That didn't happen last year.
"There was a number of players that didn't perform anywhere near what they did in 2016 (last season)," Alexander said.
"If you get that then you certainly get a start to the season like Penrith had.
"If you don't get a contribution from every play who puts the jersey on then you struggle. The competition is too close.
"If everyone's not playing as good as they can then all of a sudden you find yourself in that position, two from nine.
"It's as simple as that. It's individual.
"If players are playing as good as they, and you have a group as talented as Penrith, you'll have more wins than losses.
"If there's some blokes who aren't pulling their weight then you get beaten."