Penrith legend recalls historic Grand Final moment

It was a set play which defined the history of Penrith and a special moment that Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, advisor Greg Alexander, and former Panthers centre Brad Izzard can still recall to this day.

The three Penrith legends caught up for the first time in four years during the annual Hogs For The Homeless tour, which was founded by Fittler and True Blue Nathan Hindmarsh and has seen almost $700,000 raised for Father Chris Riley’s Youth off the Streets.

Fittler, Alexander and Izzard were all members of Penrith’s 1991 first-ever premiership winning team who had a hand in the try that changed the course of the Grand Final against Canberra Raiders.

With only 10 minutes remaining and the Panthers down 12-6, the ball found its way off a set play to backrower Mark Geyer who was just returning to the field after a stint in the sin bin.

Geyer sucked in a defender before popping an round the corner pass to Fittler, who stepped his way past the defence before sending a ball outside to Izzard to run away and score underneath the posts.

Alexander converted the try to lock the scores up at 12-all and the Panthers would go on to score again through hooker Royce Simmons on their way to sealing a fairy tale premiership.

“We sit now and talk about how good we used to be,” Izzard told nswrl.com.au, laughing. “Freddy being a little bit younger than all of us he can still do a few of those things.

“But that premiership win was something that had been building for quite a long time and it wasn’t something that came easy.

“From the Grand Final loss against Canberra in 1991 we learned a real valuable lesson about how to play it, our preparation leading up to it, and the things we’d done wrong.

“During 1991, the guys knew that we had it in us to win it and if anything we were a little bit cocky at times in some of the games that we played during the season. We just thought if they got in front we could run them down and we did, and we got away with it.

“To have Mark Geyer sent for 10 minutes for the sin bin for something he really didn’t do, everyone knuckled down and that was probably the best 10 minutes of the season for us because we were playing against a quality side that had won two Grand Finals in a row.

“It didn’t look like it was a set play but it was similar to something that we had practised at training, but obviously when you’ve got people that want to tackle you it changes the dynamics of it and with the guys in the positions they were it sort of worked out for us.”

Izzard, who now lives in Lennox Head which Fittler and the Hogs visited on day two of the tour, was also more than happy to put to bed any speculation the pass that Fittler threw to him on his way to the tryline might have been a touch forward.

“No chance in the world was it forward,” Izzard said, laughing again.

“I ran far enough to get to it, and I’m not going to let anybody spoil it.”