Gasnier showdown a huge boost for Tighe

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Panthers flier Brad Tighe says his confidence has skyrocketed after his impressive shut-out of St George Illawarra star Mark Gasnier last Monday night.

Gasnier’s return to the NRL after almost two years away dominated headlines in the lead-up to the top-of-the-table clash and all eyes were on the former State of Origin and Test centre as he made his way back onto WIN Jubilee Stadium.

But his influence was completely nullified by Tighe, who enjoyed a rare opportunity in the centres in the absence of Michael Jennings.

“It was great to get an opportunity closer in and I took a lot of confidence out of that,” Tighe told NRL.com. “It’s not easy trying to mark up on ‘Gaz’ and there was a lot of media attention during the week.

“The thing for me was trying not to worry too much about all of that and just concentrate on my own game, but it worked out well.

“I’m back out on the wing this week but I’m feeling good and hopefully I can score a few more tries.”

After a difficult start to the season, Tighe looks to have finally cemented his spot in the Panthers’ top squad.

The 26-year-old was dropped for two matches in early May for a minor off-field incident but quickly fought his way back and has played a key role in Penrith’s charge up the NRL ladder.

“It was a tough start for me,” he said. “There haven’t been a lot of opportunities in the centres either with Adrian Purtell playing so well, so I’ve had to bide my time a bit.

“I’ve probably had to adapt to the wing a bit more this year but the team is starting to play some good footy and it’s all coming together well so I’m definitely enjoying it a lot more.”

The Panthers will have to pick themselves up yet again this Sunday when they face an in-form Warriors outfit at CUA Stadium.

The Warriors are on a high after notching three consecutive wins including an impressive 35-6 thrashing of Parramatta in wet and wild conditions last weekend.

“They’re on a bit of a roll and they’ve got themselves into the eight so they’ll want to keep that momentum going,” Tighe said. “I think it’s a good test for us, too, to make sure we can back up a really good performance with another one. But I’m confident that we’ll get the job done.

“Everyone is feeling pretty upbeat and there is a lot of competition for spots, so we all need to keep performing every week.”

Tighe remains off contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move to a number of clubs, including Newcastle where his NRL career began back in 2005.

The Panthers may struggle to retain their full roster, with fellow winger and NSW Origin debutant Michael Gordon among their main priorities.

But Tighe said he was hopeful of staying at the foot of the mountains in 2011.

“There have been some minor talks and Penrith are pretty keen to keep me but I need to make sure I keep stringing good performances together,” he said. “I want to stay here. The club has some quality juniors coming through and things are looking good for the future.

“I think they are on track to win a premiership, so I definitely want to stay.”