Penrith coach Ivan Cleary says the Panthers are ready to cope with the loss of key players to State of Origin and they have learned lessons from the 2021 season.
The Panthers won last season’s grand final against South Sydney and are looking good to go on and win it again in 2022.
They did it despite the disruption of Origin and will have to do the same again this season as New South Wales coach Brad Fittler will call on a number of Panthers stars.
Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Brain To’o, and Liam Martin are nailed on to play a part, while Stephen Crichton could make his debut at centre as injuries have robbed the Blues of some key players.
Despite the loss of such key players midway through the season, Cleary believes they have the squad to cope.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us, but our NSW Cup team won again last night so we got players in form and we are really looking forward to that challenge,” he said after Saturday’s win over the Roosters. "We're looking forward to seeing plenty of the boys get picked because they deserve to.”
Meanwhile Cleary is taking the positives and says last season’s grand final success shows it can be done.
“I think it helped us last year in the semi-finals. If you can get guys who play well in the Origin arena it’s going to help you in the back end of the year,” he added. “It’s a challenge though; you prefer to have the boys around all the time but it opens the door for other guys and as a club it tests our culture and our systems. It’s a challenge we are looking forward to.”