Penrith expects Tyrone Peachey to deliver his best performance of the season with the much-loved former teammate set to face his old club on Friday night.
Peachey has endured a quiet start to the year after linking with the Titans over the off season on a three-year deal, with four straight losses making life uneasy for the NSW utility and former Panthers lower grade coach Garth Brennan.
Peachey was rumoured to have reneged on the deal last year after failing to offer his commitment during several interviews. He finally committed in November and has secured a left centre spot in the Titans backline.
"We miss having him around, he's always good fun," Panthers five-eighth James Maloney said of his former teammate.
"I haven't seen much of the footy and how they're going up there. Knowing Peach and the sort of player he is and coming up against an old club, I've been in that position myself a few times.
"There's always some bragging rights against some of your old mates. We'll have to handle him well."
Titans v Panthers - Round 5
One player who could prove pivotal to Peachey's performance on the left edge is another former Panther – Bryce Cartwright – who has started to show glimpses of the attack and defence that saw him reach peak form three years ago.
Cartwright and Peachey dominated opponents together across two seasons at the Panthers in 2016 and 2017.
"We were always just everywhere together, just float around the field," Cartwright said of the combination.
"We'd always link up with each other somewhere. It's nice having him out there, someone I've played with for so long.
"We're still building on our combination. We haven't had a settled half there yet so it's going to take some time for us but we're working on it at training."
The man in between them in the line, Tyrone Roberts, is battling an ongoing Achilles issue but is expected to play.
Penrith prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard said the pair were in a better head space which would only bring out their best efforts on the field.
"I spoke to Carty last week and there was a bit of banter there. I do miss former teammates and Brenno as well," Campbell-Gillard said.
"I think Bryce is in a good space and from what I've heard he's had a good pre-season. He looks fit so we'll have to wait and see. They're going to be a very desperate team."