Penrith's old hands rally behind rookies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Penrith's old hands rally behind rookies

By Darren Walton 25/09/2003 07:43:32 PM Comments (0)

Raw in the face of sudden-death football, Penrith's young brigade will look to cool-headed coach John Lang and his core of old hands on Sunday when they fight for a berth in the 2003 NRL grand final.

When it comes to big-match experience, the New Zealand Warriors have it all over the ground-breaking Panthers heading into their do-or-die semi-final.

Penrith will field 10 first-year finalists, with the bulk of the 17-man squad not having performed at the daunting 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium for more than two years.

In total, the Panthers have played 45 finals compared to 74 for the been-there-done-that Warriors, who have the added luxury of having fielded 10 players in the 2002 grand final.

Take Penrith imports Luke Priddis, Martin Lang and Preston Campbell out of the equation and the Warriors' finals experience is double that of the Panthers.

And while Penrith fought back admirably to bowl over Brisbane in the qualifying final two weeks ago, on Sunday there will be no tomorrow.

Coach Lang, Campbell and fellow senior players Ryan Girdler and Scott Sattler were all unconcerned about the issue.

"I've coached sides where the experienced players have come unstuck under pressure. Sometimes the younger ones don't feel the pressure the same as the experienced ones feel it," Lang said.

"So, in the end, they've all just got to get out there and do their job and do it very well.

"Whether they're experienced or inexperienced, it doesn't make any difference."

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