NRL grand final 2023 explained: All your questions answered

Penrith on October 1, 2023 became the first side in 40 years to claim three consecutive premierships after a 26-24 victory over Brisbane at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

What does the result mean and what happens now?

All your questions answered >>>

WHO WON THE 2023 NRL GRAND FINAL?

Penrith Panthers claimed a 26-24 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on October 1, 2023.

It was the Panthers’ third straight title and their fourth overall.

Chasing a seventh title, Brisbane have now lost their past two deciders in dramatic fashion after a golden point defeat in the 2015 showdown against the North Queensland Cowboys.

The match was quickly hailed as one of the best deciders ever, sparking hype that the Panthers/Broncos rivalry could be one to watch in coming seasons.

WHAT HISTORY DID PENRITH MAKE?

The Panthers are the first team in the NRL era (since 1998) to claim three successive NRL grand final wins.

They beat the South Sydney Rabbitohs 14-12 in 2021, and Parramatta Eels 28-12 in 2022.

Penrith are also the first club since the Eels in 1981-83 to win three titles in a row.

The all-time record for most straight grand final wins remains St George Dragons from 1956-66.

Download the Panthers’ victory team poster HERE.

HOW DID THE PANTHERS PLAYERS CELEBRATE?

Before making the 45 kilometre trek back to their home base, players streamed onto Accor Stadium just after midnight to continue celebrations.

Superstar Nathan Cleary was spotted posing for photos with surf champion Mick Fanning, sporting his Clive Churchill Medal and his 2023 premiership.

Departing star centre Stephen Crichton one-upped Cleary in the bling states. Crichton showed off all three premiership rings, the Provan Summons trophy and a UFC style championship belt that had the word ‘undisputed’ on the front.

Earlier in the sheds, players decked in Polynesia candy leis and sporting ski goggles belted out the team song, a rendition of Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’.

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WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES?

Referee Adam Gee was widely regarded as having a good game, allowing the contest to flow.

For the Broncos the biggest talking point was about how they let their 24-8 lead slip.

For the Panthers the question centred on Nathan Cleary – where does he rank among the best halfbacks ever?

And can Penrith shoot for No.4 in 2024?

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRONCOS?

While the Panthers entered the showdown as favourites based on their experience, Brisbane came armed with a young line-up and carefree approach.

However they needed to show defensive steel early to hold back Penrith.

Their chance came just before halftime when Tom Flegler crashed over, and an Ezra Mam hat-trick in the 15 minutes after the break looked to break the game open.

The Broncos, sparked by Reece Walsh and powered by prop Payne Haas, led 24-8 with less than 20 minutes to go.

Enter Nathan Cleary.

The halfback was able to deliver a string of clutch plays.

Brisbane, meanwhile, didn’t quite hold their nerve when it was needed to wind down the clock.

WHO IS NATHAN CLEARY?

Nathan Cleary is the Panthers’ star halfback, claiming the Clive Churchill Medal for player of the match.

The 25-year-old set up one try, kicked a 40/20 and scored the try that put his side ahead late in the contest.

Cleary’s dad and coach is Ivan Cleary, who had led the Panthers to the past three premierships and had his own decorated NRL career.

'What happened there?' – Ivan Cleary lost for words after victory

WHO IS KEVIN WALTERS?

Kevin Walters is the Broncos’ coach and would have been the first person in the NRL era to win a title as a player and a coach.

A club great at Brisbane who starred in a string of premiership wins, overcoming personal tragedy along the way, Walters took over as coach in 2021.

WHO IS EZRA MAM?

Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam, 20, was 15 minutes away from winning the Clive Churchill Medal.

His hat-trick had all but got the Broncos over the line before a late surge from the Panthers spoiled the party.

Sydney-born Mam, who moved to Queensland and grew up in Ipswich, enjoyed a breakout year in 2023, scoring 18 tries.

Originally published as NRL grand final 2023 explained: All your questions answered

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