They may have claimed the minor premiership with two games to spare following their win over South Sydney, and now the Penrith Panthers have confirmed they will be able to lift the minor premiership during their final home game of the year.
Panthers group chief executive Brian Fletcher earlier indicated he would speak with Andrew Abdo about the matter by Friday.
“We’d love to receive the trophy next weekend, our fans deserve it,” Fletched told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It will be a sell-out crowd for that reason if we get to do it – you don’t want to be carting the trophy all the way up to north Queensland when the minor premiership is already over.”
Fletcher also confirmed the Panthers would be playing their first game of the finals at BlueBet Stadium, as per a long-standing arrangement with the league.
The Panthers’ home ground has been the focus of some scrutiny in recent weeks as details have come to light about the ongoing battle for suburban stadiums between the NSW State Government and the NRL – and the subsequent resignation of local MP Stuart Ayers.
Meanwhile coach Ivan Cleary has confirmed he will be strategically resting players between now and the first week of the finals since the minor premiership was secure – though the club has already been without Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau and a host of others in recent week, giving the extended squad some handy exposure prior to the finals.
“It’s (been) a tremendous three-year period for our club, and I can’t rap the staff and boys in terms of the consistent level we’ve played at. It’s a great achievement,” the coach said.