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Tiger stripes: Kenny's ready for Leichhardt barrage from old man

Mitch Kenny knows he'll have plenty of Panthers fans supporting him on Friday night but one man sitting on the Leichhardt Oval hill with mixed emotions will be his father Dean.

Kenny senior is a massive Wests Tigers fan and has even worn the club's famous 2005 premiership-winning jersey to every one of his son's 24 Panthers games since he made his NRL debut in 2019. 

Given the recent history between the two clubs, this is a storyline to not be missed at the suburban venue on Friday night.

"He'll be on the hill at Leichhardt probably booing me," Mitch said of his father this week.

"I wouldn't be surprised. He's a good supporter [of me] but he's a Tigers man. It will be a Penrith v Parra game and he'll be the one bloke wearing a Tigers jersey every week.

"He's [like] the random Souths fan, I think it's an old 2005 jersey so he's kidding himself. But I think he'll be wearing a Panthers beanie, he does that when he gets cold.

"That's his way of saying he's covering all bases."

Wests Tigers v Panthers - Round 13

Dean's commitment to the Wests Tigers also saw Kenny grow up a fan of the joint-venture club before his career at the Panthers began to take shape.

He's now become the club's next best hooker option behind NSW representative Api Koroisau and will be required to do a job for the depleted Panthers to keep the club's unbeaten streak alive this year.

"I've got lots of fond memories as a kid going to Leichhardt watching the Tigers," he said.

"We were a Tigers household and then when I started getting involved in the Panthers I jumped ship pretty quickly.

"To play against them in first grade [at Leichhardt] is going to be great, I can't wait."

Despite the allegiances, Kenny said he had no ambitions to play for the Tigers in the future, nor has he ever been pressured by his old man to pull on the black and gold.

The 23-year-old's future at the Panthers is currently up in the air but Kenny said his contract was in the stages of "getting sorted" for next year.  

He has remarkably not lost a game of first grade with the club since round 23, 2019.

"[Dad] just wants whatever is best for me, whether that's here or somewhere else," Kenny said.

"It's enticing [to chase a starting spot elsewhere] but it's also [a case of] do you run off too early from a successful club that's going really well and is helping me develop as a player?

"It's just a balancing act and a decision I'm trying to take my time with."

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