Panthers boosted by Moylan's return
After missing the second half of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership season through injury, Penrith fullback Matt Moylan is set to make his long-awaited return to the game when the Panthers take on local rivals the Eels on Sunday afternoon.
It will be a bittersweet moment for Moylan, who debuted against the Eels in 2013 but also suffered the season-ending foot injury when the sides met last season.
His teammates are looking forward to running out alongside their new skipper, with Panthers forward Jeremy Latimore hoping Moylan's return can give his side the attacking impetus they've been looking for.
"It's good to get Matty back. He brings that bit of class and obviously over the last few years he's been one of the form players in the competition," Latimore said.
"With that bit of class, hopefully he can help us. But at the moment we can't just rely on that. We've got to grind out the wins and get some victories.
"At the moment we're one pass away from probably another two or three tries. We just need to keep working hard. I think it will come back to our defence and building confidence with what we're doing and not letting in tries in the 77th minute."
Moylan led the Panthers with 11 try assists last year, and with his side struggling for points in 2016 his return couldn't have come at a better time.
Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak can't wait to have Moylan back on the field, and is expecting the talented No.1 to create plenty of chances for him out wide.
"It's a massive boost. He's an awesome player and he should help our side a lot," Watene-Zelezniak said.
"He just brings that experience and also the hands out the back by getting the ball out to the centres and the wing.
"He played with my brothers growing up so I've always looked up to Matty as a person and for him to be captain is awesome. He's a good leader and he leads by the way he plays on the field."
One Panther who has had no issues getting across the stripe this season is Peta Hiku. The former Sea Eagle has scored in each of his four games at his new club, and after played several seasons alongside Brett Stewart knows the importance of having a class player at the back.
"He's one of the big roles that we've been missing," Hiku said of Moylan.
"Fullback's not a role you can just fill in. It's one of the key points in a team. It's part of the spine. You can say it's another 6 or 7.
"Him coming back after the form he was in last year, he's been a big loss so I'm looking forward to playing with him. It will be my first game with him, so looking forward to it."
While Moylan's return will be a massive boost, the Panthers are set to unleash another not-so-secret-weapon.
The launch of the Panthers Rugby League Academy has given the players a huge lift leading into Sunday's clash, and according to some it could be the difference between winning and losing.
"When we first saw the facility we were definitely blown away. It's world class and hopefully it can get us that extra five per cent on the field moving forward and win a few more games," Latimore said.
"It brings a great culture to the organisation. You come in here and feel privileged, and then you go out and want to repay the club."
Watene-Zelezniak added: "To have this facility here is a massive blessing to us. Hopefully it does take our game to the next level and we get the best out of ourselves."