Penrith Panthers player Nathan Cleary takes part in a training session.
Penrith Panthers player Nathan Cleary takes part in a training session. PAUL MILLER

Gould helping shape young Panthers halves

PENRITH coach Anthony Griffin is expecting the new halves pairing of Te Maire Martin and Nathan Cleary to be put under severe pressure by the Dragons on Saturday afternoon.

The duo, just 21 and 19 respectively, will play their first match together for the Panthers at UOW Jubilee Oval after working closely with Griffin and Panthers general manager Phil Gould over the summer.

Martin made six appearances in 2016, famously scoring a try and kicking the winning field goal on debut against the Broncos, before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely.

His place in the halves was taken by Cleary, who became a revelation as he guided the Panthers into the second week of the finals.

"They're both level-headed kids," Griffin said.

"You saw Nathan last year with his composure and that will be the main part of his game tomorrow, particularly if conditions are wet."

 

Nathan Cleary of the Panthers runs the ball.
Nathan Cleary of the Panthers runs the ball. DAN HIMBRECHTS

But Griffin knows the St George Illawarra pack will come hard for them.

"They'll be under a lot of pressure, no doubt," Griffin said.

"They're young and the only way they're going to get experience is to play together, so there's no magic solution."

Griffin said it was a "real advantage" for them to be able to work with Gould.

"He's one of the greatest coaches in the game," he said.

The Panthers are the early-season favourites for the premiership but have struggled in recent times against the Dragons, topping 20 points in a game just once since 2004.

News Corp Australia

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