As the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final rapidly approaches, its participants have laid to bed a myth that has long been believed throughout the competition.
The assumption goes that teams in the lower grade that don’t have NRL representation come finals time will often play deeper into September – a fact which the Penrith Panthers and Wyong Roos stand to contradict. At the beginning of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Finals Series, the Panthers and Roos were the only two clubs whose NRL affiliates would continue onto the pointy end of the Telstra Premiership. It is those two teams which will battle it out at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
While the clubs have since had different fates in the NRL – the Panthers were eliminated by the Broncos last week, while Wyong’s affiliate the Roosters remain the only Sydney team still in contention – the teams’ finals runs at the lower level have been remarkable. Playing without the NRL stars who would have remained eligible for the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Finals, Wyong and Penrith have pressed on to the decider. Roos captain Mitch Williams, however, believes the club’s NRL success has been more of a blessing than a curse.
“I think it definitely helps,” Williams tells NSWRL.com.au. “We’ve been lucky to go down and do one session (a week) throughout the last couple of weeks with them, so they’ve been very accommodating.
“I think the buzz around the club, with both teams still alive, has obviously been a good thing for both of us.”
Despite the Panthers’ NRL Finals exit, they will not welcome any of their elite stars back for the grand final; Tyrone May would have been eligible, but an untimely ACL injury has ruled him out for an extended period. Williams believe they, too, have benefitted from the strength of their top side, adding that they’ve been a tough opposition all season.
“We’re the two teams in the grand final and we’re the two clubs that had the top clubs still in there, so I guess you can say it definitely plays a part,” Williams says. “It’s been a really good season and I’m looking forward to this weekend.
“We’ve beaten them once this year and they’ve beaten us once this year so it should be a great clash. I think the first time they were just beating us all over the park and the second time we scored a late try to get the victory, so we know we’re going to have to play for the full 80.”
Wyong will undertake a light session for their captain’s run tomorrow morning at Morry Breen Reserve, before travelling to Leichhardt on Sunday for the mouth-watering match-up. Both sides will be out to make history from 6:45pm AEST, with the match broadcast live on Fox League.
The NSWRL senior competitions’ finals series, covered like never before on NSWRL.com.au and the NSWRL Facebook page, culminate on Grand Final Day at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 24 September. Be there to witness history, with tickets just $10 for adults and children under 12 free.