BREAKING: Nathan cleary is pluse one today as he celebrated his birthday….

It’s a familiar position for the Panthers to be in, but once again Ivan Cleary’s men enter a new season as reigning premiers without two key players.


Stephen Crichton, who departed for the Bulldogs, and Spencer Leniu, who signed with the Roosters, have both been integral figures in the Penrith dynasty over the last three seasons.

Now without arguably the competition’s best centre and an impressive impact forward, can the Panthers make history and become the first NRL-era team to win four in a row?

For rugby league legend Cooper Cronk, Penrith have shown over the last three years they are able to find success in any situation that presents itself.


“If you want to compete in the NRL, particularly when a comp, you probably need to do three things well. You need to be a good defensive team. You have some good talent in your decision-making positions,” Cronk said to foxsports.com.au.



“And you need to be mentally and physically tough and ready. The Panthers do that, right? So they’re already ahead of some teams before a ball has even been kicked.


“But they’ve had some changes again that brings them back to the field and other teams will believe that they want to go after them. You saw that in the World Club Challenge.


“So it’d be foolish to say they can’t do it… the most impressive thing about the three-peat for me was that they did it three different ways.


“First year against Souths it was a big-time battle, against Parramatta they blew them away and then against Brisbane, they came from behind in that huge rush.


“So they can win any game in any situation. That’s one hell of a thing to have going into a season when you want to win four in a row.”


Taylan May will replace Crichton in the centres, having spent the 2023 season sidelined due to an ACL injury after a breakout year in 2022.


Meanwhile, Liam Henry looks the likely man to take over Leniu’s bench position and the country product is a hulking middle forward.


Cronk believes that any player who gets thrown into the Panthers squad is being placed in an environment that nurtures success, with a star-studded spine.


If May carries from the back-field with vigour, and Henry injects grunt into the middle of the park off the bench, Penrith’s playmakers will do the rest.


“I think once you’ve got the foundations of Fisher Harris, Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary and Dylan Edwards as the examples and the leaders,” Cronk said.

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