It’s the passionate speech from 2003 premiership-winning Penrith captain Craig Gower being credited for inspiring the Panthers’ record run to another title.
Flash back to the pre-season and Gower was invited to speak to the players prior to the team’s round one clash against the Sydney Roosters.
After training at Panthers HQ throughout the summer for fitness, and watching the club’s young talent first-hand, the retired halfback knew his former club was on the cusp of something special.
“You have an opportunity to win the premiership, it doesn’t come along that often, so don’t waste it,” Gower said frankly.
“We all have aspirations of making grand finals, and winning one, but the reality is that you don’t get too many chances, and you guys need to take this opportunity.”
Penrith players celebrate winning the 2003 premiership. Picture: News Corp.Source:News Corp Australia
Gower’s wise words resonated with the Penrith players and motivated them to make the most of the moment before them in 2020.
Since that speech, the Panthers have gone on a remarkable unbeaten run to claim 20 consecutive victories and a draw.
Gower didn’t envisage an unbeaten season, but he had a feeling the current crop of Penrith stars could achieve big things.
“I just felt that they had the group to win,” he said.
“I thought Trent Barrett brought a lot with the attack, and I could just see the way that they trained.
“I also noticed the camaraderie between the boys – it was high quality and good to watch.
“When I saw the boys in that environment, I knew something was building.
“I also think the new rule changes have really suited them, with the ability to play off the cuff, and I think we’ve seen that in their attack.”
Gower is attending Saturday night’s preliminary final against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
He is expecting the Rabbitohs to be tough to beat, especially with seven-time premiership-winner Wayne Bennett as coach.
“I’ve been under Wayne before and I know how he works,” said Gower, who played six games at Newcastle with Bennett in 2013.
“He will get the best out of Souths, so it is going to be a great game.
“The Rabbitohs are going to be a really dangerous side, especially with Cody Walker playing so well.
“But the whole Souths side is playing well, and they are hitting the right form at the right time, and that is always dangerous to try and stop.”
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