NRL 2021: Penrith Panthers spurred on by 2020 grand final heartbreak
Panthers stars have spoken about how watching the replay of last year’s grand final loss to the Storm has lit a fire in them to go one better on Sunday.
Penrith will play South Sydney in the grand final at Suncorp Stadium with the pain of that 26-20 loss to the Storm still hurting.
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Blockbusting forward Viliame Kikau said he had embraced the hurt and was ready to go one better.
“When we started the pre-season, they called a few boys in to watch it and I think it was good for us,” Kikau said.
“It lit a fire in us and made us train really hard to make sure we got back here again. I think it is good to feel the hurt and embrace it.
“That has helped us this year. We made it tough on ourselves by losing to Souths in the first week of the finals.
“We went the long way round to get here, but it is good to be back and have another crack.
“My performance last year in the grand final wasn’t my best, but I am ready this year.”
Panthers star Stephen Crichton said he had watched the replay “a couple of times over”.
“And it hurts every time I watch it,” he said.
“The coach still brings up moments in that game where we missed opportunities, but we are going to make the most of the opportunities this week.
“It is definitely good that we get another chance to be better.”
Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo said watching the replay of the Storm loss had taught him some good lessons. Melbourne led 22-0 at halftime and the game was out of reach despite a late comeback by the Panthers.
“It was disappointing because it took me about 150 games to get there. You can’t win a game at the start but you can certainly lose it,” he said.
“That is something we did. You don’t want to miss the start, which I think we did last year.
“There were certainly lessons learnt. It certainly motivates you to get back and make amends.
“Souths have shown they are one of the best attacking teams and we are one of the best defensive teams, so it is a good match-up.”
Back-rower Kurt Capewell, who will depart for the Broncos at the end of the year, is one of the Panthers who can’t watch last year’s agonising defeat.
“A few of the boys watched it again when they first got back in pre-season, but I have never watched it back again,” he said.
“There was not too much point dwelling on it. Once it was gone, it was gone.
“I was lucky to go on and have that win in Origin (for Queensland) but the boys with the NSW side that lost, I guess that drove them as well.”
Despite not watching the game back, the pain of the loss has driven Capewell to go out on a high.
“It’s what everyone sets out to do, to win a ring, so it has definitely been a driving factor for me,” he said.
“It was very tough (to lose) last year, but it drove us to get back this year.”
Originally published as NRL 2021: Penrith Panthers spurred on by 2020 grand final heartbreak
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