Right now there seems to be two distinct sides of the Rugby League landscape; The Panthers (and their fans) vs everybody else.
In recent years it was the Storm vs everyone else. Then the Roosters vs everybody else.
Do you see the theme here?
Rugby League fans don’t like teams that are winning, unless it’s their team. Nor should they!
Panthers fans have taken to social media today to back up comments made by their coach Ivan Cleary, that their team are being unfairly criticised this year for behaviour that last year made everyone “love them”.
Penrith are on a monster regular season winning streak. As opposition fans are all to keen to remind them, the only game the Panthers have lost since the 12th of June in 2020 has been the Grand Final.
Records tumble. The Raiders were destroyed in front of a big Penrith crowd just last week.
Everybody on social media took great joy in piling on the Broncos as they finished last in 2020. Last night it was like the Broncos were the nation’s side such was their support in hope they’d overcome the big, bad Panthers.
I was all in on the Broncos last night. Had a literal multi I was more than willing to see fall to enjoy the Broncos end the Panthers winning streak.
People have “turned” on the Panthers, not because they’re cocky but because they’re winning. They’re beating our sides.
Every side annoys me and comes across as cocky, dirty, grubby and totally in cahoots with the referee when they’re beating the Sharks. EVERY SIDE!
Sorry to tell you Ivan but the Panthers were never the people’s team in 2020. They just were an alternative to the Roosters and Storm.
Remember back in 2016 when the Sharks were on a winning streak? Fans of other clubs started to notice the former easy-beats. Little brothers the Sharks with beloved players such as the Peach, ET, Rogers and the like, but never a threat.
Then 2016 happened. We started winning games. Opposition fans started hating hearing Up! Up! Cronulla! We went from everyone’s “second team” to “those flippin Sharks”.
Not because we were cocky. Because we were winning! Exactly the same situation the Panthers are in right now.
Watch ZT’s Dan Nichols discuss the Panthers’ recent run via Rugby League Outlaws
Don’t get me wrong, that ridiculous handshake video and try-celebration last night certainly didn’t help. Zero self-awareness from the Panthers youngsters. Either that or they don’t care.
Personally I hope it’s option two; an option that Panthers fans across social media should adopt.
Right now fans of the Cleary and Cleary-led Premiership favourites are so keen to defend their side against criticism where they should be enjoying every second.
Trust me, it won’t last forever.
Yes, Stephen Crichton’s recent actions to hug an opposition player into the post try celebration to rile him up was less than Gentlemanly. Especially given the fact he’s been, by far, the worst player on the park wearing a Panthers jersey.
Again though, who did it really hurt?
Did Jordan Rapana not, less than an hour prior, use the words “Sucked In ****” when it looked as though the Raiders had scored?
Only one will be remembered due to the fact that the Panthers won that game.
Lose: Passion. Win: Cocky.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be more than happy to see the Panthers lose next week and go on a 10-game losing streak. It would be hilarious fun. Can’t see it happening of course.
Which side would I like to see replace them as title-favourites?
The Sharks … and only the Sharks.
The Warriors right now have enough good will that even losing to Manly hasn’t seen their stocks fall in most fans eyes.
If they were to put together 10 wins in a row I guarantee you social media will be quick to accuse their players of being cocky rather than just passionate.
Every single side celebrates tries in the same manner. I guarantee to as fans that no one notices 90% of the post-try carry on.
For instance, I couldn’t tell you a single celebration by the Cowboys in the Sharks game. Why? Because we spanked them. Who cares if Valentine Holmes did a backflip or rode a pretend horse in the in goal?
I guarantee you Tigers fans noticed the post-try celebration when Lachlan Burr scored what turned out to be the match-winner last Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers have fallen into the same spot as the successful teams before them.
No one hates Manly with the vigor they use to. Why? Because they’re also-rans now. You almost pity them … almost.
Let the Panthers and their fans have their fun.