The Newtown Jets have again been bolstered with close to a full squad of Sharks NRL contracted players in a match which shapes as a difficult one against an unbeaten Panthers side.
The Jets have been competitive without being able to chalk up a win in their two outings to date and will be intent on getting their season kick started with a victory at Pepper Stadium.
In an interesting development, Sharks young gun Jack Bird has been named to play at five eighth, with Sharks NRL squad members making up the entire Jets backline.
And in some good news for the Sharks and Jets, centre Sami Sauiluma was exonerated on a dangerous contact charge with the case dismissed at a judiciary hearing held last night.
NSWRL.COM has again provided its weekly match preview, with the clash set to kick off at 3.00pm on Saturday.
By John Chammas
The Penrith Panthers will be out to maintain their ascendency at the top of the VB NSW Cup ladder when they take on the Newtown Jets at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
Last year’s Premiers have won two games in as many starts to commence the season, while the Jets are yet to get the ball rolling in 2015.
Penrith coach Garth Brennan insists recent form will count for nothing in what he believes is the toughest NSW Cup competition in years.
“Whoever you play in the NSW Cup you’ve got to be on your game, otherwise you’ll get knocked off,” Brennan said.
“If you don’t turn up to play you can be beaten by any team in this competition. It’s the strongest NSW Cup competition I’ve seen in a long time.”
Penrith’s defensive determination proved the catalyst behind last year’s premiership glory, and after conceding just four points in their last start against the Bears, it is again Brennan's number one priority.
“Defence has been my focus every year. If you’re defensively very strong then you’re going to be thereabouts at the back end of the year. I’m expecting a really tough game against the Jets,” he said.
Brennan believes complacency will not get the better of his side on Saturday against a Jets outfit searching for their first victory after back-to-back losses to begin the season.
“The Jets are very competitive. They’ve got some real quality players in their team. They’ve got some big forwards with plenty of experience, so they aren’t going to be an easy task, that’s for sure,” he said.
Penrith boast a host of emerging talent waiting in the wings for their opportunity in the top grade. Fledgling prospects in George Jennings and Waqa Blake are just two of several members of the Panthers side who he believes will keep the NRL backs on guard across 2015.
“I’ve been working with these kids in the NYC for the last couple of years and I know what they can do, so I was pretty excited about these boys developing in NSW Cup and hopefully into NRL players this year."
Isaac John turned-on a VB hard-earned man-of-the-match display in Bathurst last weekend and Brennan is looking for more of the same from his five-eighth against the Jets.
“His game last weekend was first-class. We’re fortunate, we’ve got Will Smith there and Adrian Davis, but I was very happy with Isaac’s performance last weekend,” he said.
“He will definitely keep [Jamie] Soward and [Peter] Wallace on their toes this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in the top-grade soon.”