True Blue Andrew Johns has laid out the blueprint the Penrith Panthers need to beat premiers Melbourne Storm in this Saturday’s NRL Preliminary Final at Suncorp Stadium.
Johns has had some input this year on how to roll the Storm after acting as a coaching consultant to Parramatta halves Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown. The Eels beat Melbourne 16-12 in Round Two and then 22-10 in Round 24.
“The big thing for the halves going into both Melbourne games was that your kicking game has to be perfect and you have to jag a try or two from kicks,” Johns told Freddy and the Eighth for Wide World of Sports.
“Have a look at the first game and (winger Maika) Sivo scored late from one of those bombs. And in the second game their kicking game was perfect.”
Johns said that Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary, who possesses one of the best kicking games in the NRL, would have to be on song with the boot.
“Jagging some tries from kicks is going to be the challenge for Nathan (Cleary),” Johns said.
“Those big bombs up against (Ryan) Papenhuyzen.
“Papenhuyzen has had a patchy year but he’s back to his best. But it’s how he contends with those floating bombs.
“The big advantage for Penrith is also that it’s a day game so you can move the ball well.”
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, who won the 1991 premiership with the Panthers, said no side was invincible. He added True Blue and Eels forwards Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown had played a key role in the Round 24 win and the Panthers had players who could do the same.
“They’re not unbeatable,” Fittler said.
“The key for Penrith is you’ve got to kick early, move the ball around, be patient and not lose your nerve. It’s a real mental game.
“Parramatta completed at around 90% when they played them a couple of weeks ago (Round 24). Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown were really busy through the middle.
“You’ve got to be able to do that the entire game, and I think Penrith can do that. They learnt that last year but it’s whether they’ve got the condition to do it – they’re a bit busted.”