Penrith captain Kevin Kingston has set his side a mission to destroy the semi-final hopes of all before them over the coming weeks as they look to finish their tumultuous 2012 on a high.
With four games remaining the Panthers face four sides stuck right in the middle of the top-eight logjam with this week’s opponents Canberra then the Warriors, Gold Coast and Brisbane all needing to notch plenty of wins to sneak into the finals.
“We don’t want to make life easy for them,” Kingston told NRL.com today. “Our goals haven’t changed. We want to win games and we want to finish the year on a high.
“We were disappointed with what we did defensively (against Melbourne) last week so we’re keen to show that it was just a bad day out.”
The Panthers are still locked in a battle with western Sydney rivals Parramatta for the wooden spoon and need to defeat the Raiders this afternoon to maintain their two-point buffer over the Eels who were convincing winners over the Roosters on Saturday night. But Kingston said the club was aiming much higher than just avoiding a last-place finish.
“We’ve been improving over the past month or so and it’s important that we keep doing that to give us something to build on next year,” he said.
“We’ve got a fairly young squad here but I think guys like Josh Mansour have shown that we’ve got a bright future here at the club. But like I said, even though we’re in a rebuilding phase it’s nice to win some games too. That’s what we want to do over the next few weeks.”
Kingston himself has been a prominent figure at Penrith this season – taking over the captaincy from Luke Lewis mid-year and staking a claim for the role full-time in 2013.
The veteran hooker has previously stated that he is reluctant to captain the club permanently but while he points to prop Tim Grant as the preferred option he wouldn’t knock the job back if offered.
“It would be an honour – I’ve learnt a lot this year from captaining the side,” he said.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but personally I think Tim Grant is the obvious choice. He is only young so he can become a long-term leader and he has already played State of Origin.“I can’t see anyone else doing a better job than him.”