Grant to take Petero's mantle

He has been ear-marked as a representative prop of the future, but after five years in the NRL, Penrith's Tim Grant is finally ready to leave his mark.

The local St Marys junior has played 74 games for his beloved Panthers, but explained to NRL.com that most of those games were about him learning the trade of being a prop forward in the world’s toughest competition.

He now feels comfortable in himself to lead from the front.

“It’s my sixth season with the Panthers and I’m pretty proud of that,” Grant told NRL.com.

“But really it is the third season where I’ve actually contributed to the team, the first few were learning sorts of seasons.

“My dream to play for NSW in Origin. It burns me watching Queensland win all the time. But I’m totally focussed on playing well for the Panthers, and hopefully one day I’ll get a chance to play for the Blues.”

Grant believes the departure of Petero Civoniceva means all of the Penrith forwards will need to step up this year and he is putting his hand up to lead the way.

“Petero has left a huge gap in our team, he is a great player and probably one of the best front-rowers ever.”

“We have four front-rowers here and I think the rotation is as good as any in the competition and I think we can get the job done without him.”

With the departure of Civoniceva in the off-season, local junior Luke Lewis was elevated to the captaincy, and is the sole survivor from the Panthers' last premiership in 2003.

Grant says Lewis is the perfect fit as skipper for the club at the foot of the mountains.

“There is a breath of fresh air for the club and the community. Everybody is on board and having Lewis as captain is unreal,” Grant said.

“He is really inspirational on and off the field. It’s good to have him there.”

The Panthers are hoping to turn around a disastrous 2011 campaign where they finished a disappointing 12th, winning just nine games and losing 15.

Grant admits it was a tough year for everyone involved with the club.

“Last year was a disrupted season and started to get the boys down a bit,” he said.

“It probably took its toll on us physically as well, but everyone is full of excitement about what we can make it this season.

“We’re all ready to go. As Ronnie Palmer would put it: 'tails wagging'.”

The season starts for Penrith at home to the Bulldogs tonight, with both clubs looking to have improved seasons.

“Everyone wants to win round one. We are going to have to play hard,” he said.

“The Bulldogs are a great team. We have had a look at them on video. It’s not going to be an easy task.

“It's probably great for the community out here if we get the ball rolling on a good note and hopefully they get behind us.”

Get involved in the conversation: #NRLPenCby