Rejuvenated Bathurst ready for Panthers return
Penrith lock Elijah Taylor says he has no concerns about the playing surface at Carrington Park in Bathurst after the ground underwent a major upgrade over the summer.
For the second straight season, the club will take one of their home games to the regional centre, hosting the beleaguered Titans on Saturday afternoon.
Last year, an extremely soft and boggy track welcomed the Panthers when they went down 18-16 to Cronulla. In what was a horror day for the club, skipper Peter Wallace also suffered an ACL injury that prematurely ended his season.
Taylor said the field that day was far from the pristine pitches of the NRL, but was comforted by news that the park had undergone major improvements in December and hoped they could run out onto a fast, dry field on Saturday afternoon.
"The Sharks played really well that day and it was a really wet game. The field was below par," he recalled.
"But now they've done it up, which is really good. Hopefully it's a fast track out there this time. And I'm sure a lot of the Panther fans out in Bathurst will come to the game."
The Panthers lock said it was rare for an NRL ground to be in such muddy conditions, a state that wasn't helped by the two curtain-raisers earlier that day.
"It's not often when it happens, nowhere near. You hardly ever see it. But it's a game out in the bush and they're not used to having NRL footy games out there," he said.
"And the weather was really, really bad in the whole week leading up to it. And there were [two] games before our game, so it was pretty chopped up for our game."
The Bathurst Regional Council spent about $110,000 in installing a new draining surface under the ground, as well as upgrades on grandstand seating, changerooms, and amenities.
Taylor admitted a few players voiced their concerns about the state of the surface after last year's game, and said they needed to do their job no matter the conditions.
"After the game [we were concerned]. The ground was choppy, but at the end of the day you've got to play on anything. Whatever field, we've got to play. That's our job. We can't complain about the field or anything," he said.
After attracting a crowd of just 8,824 last year, the Panthers will be hoping the autumn weather will draw a bigger gate this weekend.