Panthers dismiss wooden spoon fears
Despite being two points from the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder, and with the very real prospect of being logjammed with three other clubs after Round 23, the Penrith Panthers have refused to accept they're a chance to end 2015 with the wooden spoon.
The very suggestion angered some – with five-eighth Jamie Soward refusing to answer questions relating to the ill-fated prize – and it was hooker James Segeyaro who left the biggest impression with a very direct response.
"We won't be getting the wooden spoon," he said. "We didn't set up for this. There's no way."
Utility back-rower Tyrone Peachey shared his Panthers teammate's sentiment, as they team looks to avoid a four-way battle with the Titans, Knights and Wests Tigers for the competition's worst honour.
"We're not thinking about that at all," Peachey said. "We'll just get a win this week and we'll worry about the rest of the season."
After losing to the Eels in Darwin over the weekend in unmemorable fashion, Segeyaro added that after five straight losses it's now time to build for next year.
With the finals now out of reach, Segeyaro was hopeful of bouncing back against an equally desperate Warriors team who are missing Shaun Johnson (ankle), Ben Matulino (suspended) and Manu Vatuvei (shoulder) following the New Zealand-based team's last start 36-0 loss to the Dragons.
"It hasn't been our best year. But that's rugby league. You can't linger on that," Segeyaro said.
"We've just got to turn up each week and what better week to turn up for the fans, especially being at home, so we have to put a good performance together and give the fans something they've been lacking the last couple of weeks."
Meanwhile, this weekend the Panthers will also wear their Indigenous jumper to celebrate last week's Indigenous Round.
With Indigenous artist Daren Dunn also designing the Panthers players' boots and in some cases headgear, Segeyaro was excited to represent the special cause.
"It means a lot to me, personally I'm not Indigenous but I am a black fella and I do understand the struggles that the Aboriginal people go through daily and in history. It means a lot to me that I get to wear these boots and represent their culture," he said.
"It's something that means a lot to the Aboriginal people and community. Any way I can help makes me feel better about myself and it is obviously good for the community and people as well."