Cleary: "It won't happen to us"
Disappointed yet upbeat Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is fully confident a heartbreaking last-gasp 26-25 loss to Manly at Brookvale Oval on Sunday won't derail the team's season, insisting they will be strong enough to learn from the defeat rather than let it get to them.
"It's not going to happen to us, the reality is we win the game next week we have our own destiny in our hands," a disappointed yet upbeat Cleary said in response to questions about whether the Panthers would be brought undone by the disappointment.
"Obviously [it was] a disappointing result but there are a lot of positives to come out of the game. We've got a young team that absorbed [a lot] in terms of big-time footy – you'd like to learn from that game.
"We certainly competed, we did a bit more than that really. There's a few things, as I said we can learn from that and make sure we get a bit better next week. I'm very proud of the way the boys prepared and came down here and competed."
With the Panthers missing a chance to nail down a top-four spot – which they can still grab with a win at home against the Warriors next week – Cleary agreed a top-four finish would be a big boost in the current finals structure.
"It's definitely easier going from the top four. Having said that, once the finals start it's a different competition altogether. I think we'll get quite a lot actually out of that game today for these next games coming up."
Cleary said while he was impressed by the debut of young hooker Kierran Moseley, he was confident first-choice rake James Segeyaro would be back from Papua New Guinea following the death of his father in time to take his place in the side for the Round 26 game.
He was also confident rugged lock Adam Docker would be there, despite being placed on report for a 43rd-minute lifting tackle on Manly prop Jason King.
"You're always concerned when they go on report. The context around those types of [lifting] tackles has got a little bit out of hand I think.
"It was a pretty good rugby league tackle from what I can say. He didn't get a lot of help from the other player, it was a good hard tackle and just tipped him over a bit. I guess we'll wait and see."