The Cowboys head into Monday Night Football wary of a former teammate making a huge name for himself at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
Panthers hooker James Segeyaro admits he was "envious" of watching his old teammates from North Queensland push deep into the finals without him last year.
Departing Penrith prop Tim Grant says a desire to repay the club that developed him into an NRL player helped him stay motivated in the tough times this year.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has labelled his team's 16-4 victory over the Dragons "the best 80-minute display" of the season.
A second half shutout has helped Penrith beat the Dragons 16-4 in Wollongong on the way to firming their hopes of a top-four finish.
The Dragons are fast approaching do-or-die mode and need to defeat the Panthers in Wollongong to start to build some momentum.
Gareth Widdop says the Dragons are well aware of just how much goes on the line in Sunday's showdown with the Panthers.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is set to call on forgotten pair Tim Grant and Kevin Kingston as the club deals with a horror injury toll.
Penrith halfback Jamie Soward says he is happy to be booed when he comes up against his former team St George Illawarra this weekend.
He's the rookie playmaker entrusted to help steer Penrith through to the finals, but Will Smith almost never made it through the pre-season.