A few of them looked a bit worse for wear, but no more than their coach, as the Panthers celebrated with their supporters at the club’s fan day at BlueBet Stadium on Monday morning.
The Panthers clinched a third-straight premiership after pulling off the greatest comeback in NRL grand final history in a 26-24 win over the Broncos, who led 24-8 after 56 minutes.
The highlight of the fan day event was a joke made from CEO Matt Cameron, who said prop James Fisher-Harris was unable to speak at the event due to “laryngitis”.
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Fisher-Harris sparked plenty of controversy at last year’s fan day following the 2022 grand final win against the Eels when he said “Parra are our sons” which elicited a “We hate Parra” chant from the Panthers’ fans.
“James has got laryngitis so he can’t speak today. He’s woken up this morning with a little bit of laryngitis” Cameron told the crowd at BlueBet Stadium.
Jarome Luai walked out flashing his three premiership rings, Stephen Crichton had a championship belt, much like you see in wrestling or UFC, around his waist and nearly every player donned the shades to mask the enormity of the night before.
However the star of the show turned out to be coach Ivan Cleary, who walked to the fans chanting his name.
Cleary was dusty and it was clear he had enjoyed a night of celebrations. He credited his team and thanked the fans for their support.
“We want to be a source of community pride. I just can’t believe how many smiling, happy faces I saw last night at the ground,” Cleary said.
“You guys are very lucky to have this team, these guys are awesome. I feel very fortunate to be able to lead these guys.
“The community of Penrith and all our Penrith crew, that’s what got us home.”
Cleary admitted it got “a bit quiet” in the coaches’ box during the second half as the Broncos scored 24 unanswered points and put up what seemed like a winning break.
Adding to the pain was the fact Luai went off after re-aggravating a shoulder injury while co-captain Isaah Yeo had to come off the field for a head injury assessment.
“It went a bit silent in the coaches box there halfway through the second half. All that stuff was going on and we were trying to work out subs and how we could change things around to spark stuff.
“You always have this feeling in the back of your mind that these boys are capable of everything and we just needed a bit of momentum or something good to happen and we were able to get that try to Moses (Leota).”
Cleary than turned to Leota and gave him a rap to a big cheer from the crowd.
“Seriously, Moses is an absolute tank, he’s been doing this all year,” Cleary said.
“Not only does he hit it up off the kick off, he smashes people and scores tries in grand finals.
“It’s such an amazing night, I can’t believe it just happened.”
Originally published as Hilarious excuse for premiership prop’s gag order as Panthers celebrate with fans