Panthers great Mark Geyer has defended the current crop over their grand final celebrations, refusing to condemn the premiers for their controversial antics.
A number of players have caused a stir on social media and during the Penrith fan day on Monday, leading to plenty of fans and pundits criticising their behaviour.
Jarome Luai posted an image on social media with a caption that had racial implications, which has since been deleted, with speculation he could face a sanction from the NRL.
James Fisher-Harris took aim at the Eels and said their western Sydney rivals were “our sons” on Monday, while Tigers recruit Api Koroisau made a tongue-in-cheek dig at his future club.
But speaking on Triple M, Geyer defended the Panthers stars and said they shouldn’t be put on a pedestal after a night of partying and no sleep.
“What we are witnessing is very special – Penrith, for the first time in rugby league history, won the SG Ball, Jersey Flegg, NSW Cup and first grade,” he said.
“This club is a juggernaut at the moment and I expect people from the outside to take barbs, it’s only natural.
“This is a team that were on the field until 1.30am and then they got back to the Panthers at 2.30am to their adoring fans and then straight into a press conference at BlueBet Stadium yesterday at 10am.
“You can forgive a couple of players if they’ve said something that they would maybe take back ordinarily. I’m not holding any grudges against anything they say and I know that there is some stuff said about them – that’s natural.
“With victory, you’re going to have people saying disparaging things about this team. Whatever they say, they can’t take the competition back from them.
“The thing is, if they said nothing post-game we would say ‘we need characters in the game’ and then they say something and they are grubs.
“Come on – the kids have just won a grand final, they have been out celebrating all night with no sleep. Don’t hold them to the sword by what they say the next day.”
Penrith have been branded as arrogant and over-confident for a majority of their three-year run near the top of the league, which has seen them win two premierships and two minor premierships.
But the fact of the matter is, they have earned the right to celebrate and be a little bit cocky. Penrith are miles ahead of the rest of the NRL, and their performance against Parramatta in the grand final only proved it.
Geyer also defended comments from Fisher-Harris, who declared the current Panthers as the club’s greatest-ever side.
“Well they are [the best Penrith side ever] – they have won back-to-back premierships…no other Penrith has team has ever done it,” he said.
“I’m not going to hold someone accountable who hasn’t slept and they’ve got a microphone put in front of them. If something is said down the track that is disrespectful to anybody, something will be said.
“But I don’t think anyone from the 1991 or 2003 grand final-winning teams would take it seriously.
“Statistically, this team is the best – they have won back-to-back grand finals. We beat a red-hot Canberra team, 2003 beat a red-hot Roosters team, but we didn’t do it back-to-back and this team did.
“What he said is true.”