We continue the Penrith Panther NRL player’s performance for 2013.
ISAAC JOHN (16 GAMES, 4 TRIES, 16 POINTS), A-
Injuries to Lachlan Coote and Tom Humble in particular gave Isaac John a chance to resurrect his NRL career after a stint in Super League. John’s best performance was against his former club New Zealand Warriors in Penrith’s 62-6 win at Centrebet Stadium. It could be argued that John’s introduction to the top grade helped improve and take the pressure off Luke Walsh. With the introduction of Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward to the club next year, John will be a handy backup player for Ivan Cleary.
MOSE MASOE (17 GAMES, 2 TRIES, 8 POINTS), A
Out of all the players Penrith picked up in the off-season it’s pretty clear that Mose Masoe was the best off-season buy. Masoe came from the bench in all but four appearances and was successful in making immediate impact through the heart of the opposition’s defence. Some of his runs got Penrith out of trouble in their own half that was truly inspiring to the team. Mose’s efforts were capped off with a try against Manly in his final game for the club as he heads to the Super League to join Luke Walsh at St Helens.
ADAM DOCKER (17 GAMES, 0 POINTS), A-
This was a breakthrough season for Adam Docker despite missing the final weeks through injury. His partnership with Nigel Plum in defence gave the duo the ‘hitmen’ tag. When Plum was out injured, Docker didn’t quite have the same effect and he will learn with more NRL experience to take the lead in putting the opposition on their back. After a disrupted start to 2012, this guy will just continue to get better in 2014.
Considering that Penrith looked like they were going to release him, Nigel Plum defied all the odds to win a contract extension for a further two years. Plum deserves a lot of credit for the form of Adam Docker this season. The opposition knew not to run at the pair when they were carting the ball up, or they were asking for trouble. He also consistently made the highest metres gained carting up the pill. Plum must have been close to NSW Origin contention before injury in the Eels away game put him on the long term injury list. Here’s hoping Plum can carry his great form into next year.
SIKA MANU (20 GAMES, 5 TRIES, 20 POINTS), A
First season at the club, Sika Manu was worth every cent. In leadership despite not being appointed captain, Manu can be credited for guiding the Panthers to an upset win over Melbourne Storm at Centrebet Stadium. This win saw the club start to gain momentum as they pushed up the table. Manu showed plenty of courage to play the latter part of the season with a broken hand week in week out. This says a lot about the commitment, inspiration and dedication Sika brings to Penrith.
TIM GRANT (21 GAMES, 0 POINTS), B+
We’ve come to expect a lot from Tim Grant over the years considering his NSW Origin debut in 2012. He probably didn’t get to the same heights as last season. Maybe the pressure was off Tim because of the buys in Masoe, Segeyaro and Manu during the off-season. Having said that, he was steady and made a good contribution to a stronger forward pack compared to previous years.
CLINT NEWTON (23 GAMES, 2 TRIES, 1 GOAL, 10 POINTS), B
In his last year at Penrith, Clint Newton’s role was to show leadership and experience. And it could be said he accomplished this especially during a period where the injury toll was high on the team and Penrith needed someone like Newton to be a steadying influence on the team. A try and goal in his last game at Brookvale was a perfect send-off as Clint returns home for the final leg of his career to Newcastle.
LEWIS BROWN (23 GAMES, 3 TRIES, 12 POINTS), B+
Signed from the Warriors early in 2012, I thought Lewis Brown’s 2012 season was flat. But once he reunited with Ivan Cleary, Brown showed signs of being back to his best especially causing problems out wide when he played in the centres. He also showed versatility being able to play in the forwards during periods where Penrith were low on stock. Brown’s double against New Zealand Warriors in the 62-6 win was probably one of his more outstanding games. Expect Brown to continue to improve next season with ex-teammate Elijah Taylor set to join the club.
LUKE WALSH (23 GAMES, 2 TRIES, 74 GOALS, 3 FIELD GOALS, 159 POINTS), B
It was another season where fans were divided about Luke Walsh’s impact on Penrith and it appeared at one stage earlier in the season that he would be dropped to Windsor Wolves. From the time Isaac John came into the side and also his decision to sign with Super League club St Helens, Walsh’s game improved. He was more open to taking risks during the game and running the ball on the odd-occasion to the defensive line. Some of his kicks were game changes like the 40/20 in Darwin against Gold Coast when scores were close. And it could be said some performances were match winning for the Panthers. His goal kicking has always been fantastic and it showed again in 2013 with a high success rate. Walsh leaves the club having played 107 times for the Panthers scoring ten tries, 154 goals (kick success rate 81%) and ten field goals for a total of 358 points.
DEAN WHARE (24 GAMES, 5 TRIES, 20 POINTS), B+
It’s fair to say Dean Whare struggled at the start of 2013 playing at a new club and taking over from Lachlan Coote at fullback. He looked uncomfortable at the back. Once Ivan Cleary made the decision to play Matt Moylan at fullback, Whare move to the centres and here’s where the season turned around for him. A dynamic partnership evolved with Dave Simmons as he consistently set up the winger with tries from tap backs and flick passes. I’ve talked about the Plum/Docker partnership previously, but the Simmons/Whare pairing was for me the best thing to happen for the Panthers this season. I think Whare will get more opportunities with the ball in hand next year and his five tries will be doubled.
That leaves us with only captain Kevin Kingston, winger Dave Simmons and James Segeyaro – one of these three will be our QLDPanthers 2013 Player of the Year.
All ratings are the opinion of Matt Pritchard @ QLDPanthers