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NSW Cup 2022 Season Preview | Panthers

The NSWRL has cast its eye over the 12 teams who will take part in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup in 2022, with the opening round to kick off on Saturday 12 March. The state’s premier competition remains a valuable pathway for higher honours with 52 players going on last season to play in the NRL. Today, the Penrith Panthers.


There’s arguably no better time to be a Penrith Panthers fan than right now, whether it’s in the NRL or the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

Much like the Ivan Cleary-coached first grade side – who secured the Provan-Summons Trophy in 2021 after falling short the previous year – the NSW Cup team finished the COVID-affected season in outright first position with 12 wins from 15 matches.

While the Panthers boasted the strongest defensive record of any side (192 points conceded), their attacking play was a force to be reckoned with – scoring 30 points or more on six occasions and winning nine games by a margin of at least 12.

Penrith’s stellar NSW Cup season was headlined by the likes of newly re-signed halfback Kurt Falls, Mitch Kenny, Sunia Turuva, Taylan May and Izack Tago, the latter pair earning a taste of NRL later in the year.

The 2021 season also saw the NRL debuts of lock J’maine Hopgood and former Australian Schoolboys forward Lindsay Smith.

This season

The season to come has Penrith in with a big chance of maintaining their NSW Cup dominance with more young talent coming through in the club’s famed pathways system, and little turnover from the successful 2021 team, as well as the starting NRL side.

The spine remains relatively intact with Falls and Jersey Flegg graduate Niwhai Puru partnering in the halves, and Turuva in his preferred No. 1 jersey.

The forward pack is ever improving as Smith, Hopgood and 22-year-old prop Eddie Blacker among others, gain even more experience.

Putting all those pieces together alongside a dangerous outside backs group, it appears the Panthers have all bases covered, yet again, as they look to reinforce their status as the team to beat.

Ideally – after the competition was cut short last year – the men in black would want nothing more than holding the NSW Cup aloft come Grand Final day in 2022.

Players to watch

If recent seasons are anything to go by, there are plenty of names to keep an eye on at Penrith. One of those being fullback Sunia Turuva.

With Brent Naden and Matt Burton headed to the Bulldogs, Paul Momirovski returning to the Roosters, and key names including Robert Jennings and Tago set to fill vacant positions in the NRL side, Turuva will become one of the more experienced members in the Penrith backline.

From 10 games in 2021 he scored four tries and set up five, made 46 tackle busts and averaged 179.4 run metres per game.

Turuva is always a threat to break the defensive line with speed or footwork as he proved on numerous occasions in 2021, but look for the 19-year-old to produce an even greater attacking output this season.

Another player to watch for the Panthers this year is halfback Sean O’Sullivan, who returns to his junior club for the first time since 2016 when he captained the SG Ball Cup team to a Grand Final win.

While O’Sullivan provides vital halves depth behind NRL Premiership duo Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, his first grade experience will only strengthen the NSW Cup side should he join them in 2022.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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