Thanks Paul Kent.
Thank you NRL 360.
And above all, thank you NRL Twitter.
If there was any doubt Penrith Panthers would still have the fire in their bellies to push for a third Premiership next year, it has died down in recent days.
The way the Penrith Grand Final celebrations were covered by some sections of the media, and the build-up that followed, was one of the biggest overreactions in rugby league. And boy, there have been a few over the past 113 years.
I can’t imagine what these people would think if they followed the NFL and the NBA and watched the “big show” celebrations, or the trash talk, that happen in these American sports.
This Penrith side will likely respond as they have done so often in recent years: by winning.
I’ve never been so sure of Penrith’s hunger next season to make it a hat-trick.
But let’s unpack the last few days for a moment.
Like all teams, Penrith embarked on post-match celebrations in the dressing room after their beating of Parramatta.
Photos and images showed a wonderful celebration – with some players honoring their heritage, others playing on the ‘Top Gun’ theme we’ve now heard about in the build-up to the game. There was lots of champagne being sprayed, a running show in the winning locker room, and songs being sung (including “Sweet Caroline” – and no, that wasn’t a Mitch Moses reference. Really imagine thinking that!).
The team then returned to the Panthers. There was no crowd surfing, no wild partying. Instead, the team bus took a rear entrance into the club and the players joined a private party at the EVAN Theater with family, friends, staff and a few hangers. They took pictures with said hangers, shared a few drinks and in some cases danced the night away.
They then showed up to a fan day out at 9.30am the next morning, sunglasses in tow – again, a common accessory for Premiership winning teams from any sport across the world on the ‘morning after’ .
James Fisher-Harris says what he says. (In the following days we discover that no one in Parramatta is involved. Nor anyone from the previous Penrith team, as far as we can tell).
Api Koroisau says what he says. (I mean, he said what we all think, but of course he probably would like him back).
Fan Day comes to an end and players continue their celebrations in various pubs around Penrith – in private, with little fanfare apart from the odd fan asking for a photo.
And so ends the seemingly over-the-top offensive celebrations.
Truly extraordinary, when you consider that this entire breach apparently happened over a 12-hour period.
Seriously, it’s actually one of the most low-key Premiership celebrations ever. Just ask the 2003 team about “hijacking” a bus to get to fan day or the 1991 team about the length of the party.
If you legitimately believe that Penrith has passed the peak this week, you need to read your head. Maybe following professional sports isn’t for you.
Tell me, honestly, what did Penrith do wrong?
Sure, you can cringe at a thing or two if that’s not your choice. If you don’t understand sports rivalries, you’re fine. Maybe the background or region some of these guys are from is not something you understand.
But who did they hurt?
The truth is, a lot of it comes from an organization, and specifically from a TV show.
The same TV show that backed Ricky Stuart, 55, when he called Jaeman Salmon, 23, a ‘weak, gutted dog’ at a press conference, over an incident when the latter was a child.
The same TV show that hammered Penrith manager Pete Green ahead of the grand final, despite mounting evidence there was no problem out of the preliminary final – including the player himself – even impacted, Jed Cartwright.
The same TV show that pushed the ‘arrogant’ line because Penrith dares to celebrate the Trials in lavish style.
The same TV show that acted like a brawl in a Panthers vs. Raiders game early last season sounded like the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
I think we can see where the problem is here, and it’s not with the Panthers.
I guess it’s all about ratings and clicks. Sad, really.
Troy Dodds is the editor and senior editor of The Weekender. He has over 20 years’ experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.