A first-up loss to start 2019 for Penrith could in no way be laid at the feet of the release of lewd videos involving a number of Panthers players, according to coach Ivan Cleary.
Although he had answered questions over the past fortnight leading up to Sunday's opening-round 20-12 loss to the Eels about the troubles Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips and Liam Coleman have found themselves in, Cleary braced himself again at Penrith Stadium on Sunday.
The clunky display from his side – just 41% possession, 10 penalties conceded – prompted the question on whether the publicity over some Penrith players' behaviour had wider repercussions.
"Our off-season has been really good," Cleary said. "We had, obviously, an issue for a period of about a week.
"But for the most part I've been really happy with how everything has worked."
Halfback Nathan Cleary, one of the six players with the 'c' against their name in the team list for captain against Parramatta, said it would have been nice to get the win over Parramatta to put the off-field issues behind the team.
"It would have but we definitely don't blame it. We've put that behind us because we had a really good week at training," he said.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Eels
"It's just disappointing we didn't get the win. But at least we know where we went wrong and we can fix it."
That would mostly like be completion of sets – just 25 from 38.
"We found ourselves defending a lot. I think from the 12th minute to the 32nd or 24th we had only completed two sets in that first half," coach Cleary said.
"It was one of those games that it seemed like we couldn't get any momentum. It was stopped by a mistake or a penalty.
"We were coming back in the second half. I thought the clock was on our side and the game was turning our way," he said of the tries to Wayde Egan and James Tamou that got the Panthers to within two points, 14-12, in the 65th minute.
"I thought we had every right to get that game finished. But again I think we only had one completed set in the last 15 minutes.
"I did think our forward pack played well today and defended well under a lot of pressure. We didn't get quite the same from the outside backs."
As for the Michael Jennings try in the 24th minute, where he appeared to juggle the ball over the line, Cleary was philosophical.
Jennings juggles it over the line
"I just think you have some good days and some bad days. A lot of those juggles and tap-ons and stuff … well they made their plays today.
"I don't think it affected the outcome of the game."
It wasn't a good day for former Dragons forward Hame Sele, who lasted 18 minutes before walking off with a serious left arm injury in his Penrith debut.
"Initial diagnosis is a fractured arm. They're hopeful it may not be. He'll just have to go and get scans," Cleary said.
Another of the co-captains Isaah Yeo was helped from the field in the 54th minute with concussion after a high tackle that landed Jennings in the sin bin.
"He's pretty good in there now … but he [Jennings] didn't miss him," Cleary said.