It’s been an off-season of change at the foot of the mountains.
The Panthers have parted ways with last year’s club captain Matt Moylan, so too touted young-gun Bryce Cartwright – the pair finding new homes at the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans, respectively.
But as the Panthers’ stocks shift in place of newcomers out west, the 2018 do-over hasn’t be limited only to the club’s NRL squad.
Title-winning Intrust Super Premiership NSW coach Garth Brennan takes on a well-earned NRL gig at the Titans, while 2017 ISP NSW captain Darren Nicholls goes in search of a long-awaited NRL debut as a Dragon.
Assistant to Brennan throughout the 2017 season, Guy Missio assumes the Panthers ISP NSW coaching duties – a transition made smoother for the side by the pair’s shared philosophies on Rugby League.
“It’s a big loss losing guys like Brenno (Brennan) and Dezie (Nicholls), but the club has signed well, and our junior systems are strong. We’ve got enough talent to fill any holes,” NRL State Championship Man of the Match Kaide Ellis tells NSWRL.com.au.
“Garth and Guy are both pretty similar actually, that’s why I think they worked so well together and why we had so much success last season.
“They’re both pretty ‘old school’ – they build their game plans around being strong in defence, working hard and being selfless. It’s hard to pick a lot of differences between them.”
Missio’s coaching style will be first examined as Penrith play host to the Wyong Roos tonight (16 February) – the 2017 grand finalists squaring off in the sides’ trial match at Panthers Stadium.
“We haven’t really spoken too much about last year’s (Intrust Super Premiership NSW) Grand Final, it sounds like an old cliché but we’ve just been focussing on us,” Ellis says.
“Guy hasn’t tried to change too much up from last year, he’s pretty much just picked up from where Garth left off.
“In these trials, for a lot of us younger boys it’s about just getting some more experience playing against the men.”
The Penrith-Wyong trial kicks off at 5pm (AEDT), with an NRL trial to follow from 7:10pm.