Elliot lauds rising Panthers star Walsh - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Elliot lauds rising Panthers star Walsh

By Ed Jackson 24/05/2009 11:54:12 AM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matt Elliott has lauded halfback Luke Walsh for his impact since joining the NRL club from Newcastle in mid-March.

Walsh was one of several Panthers to shine in Saturday night's 48-6 demolition of the Sydney Roosters at CUA Stadium.

While State of Origin hopefuls Michael Jennings and Luke Lewis stole the headlines with their star-turns, Walsh was the fulcrum of the Panthers' attack as they raced to their biggest ever victory over the Bondi club.

And Elliott said a lot of what's going right for Penrith can be attributed to Walsh's arrival.

"I think a lot of the elements of tonight's performance were there right from round one," Elliott said.

"But I think what Luke has given us is a genuine natural halfback.

"We've tried to manufacture one but I think we've got a lot of sixes... we were trying to play without a halfback really and we didn't notice it until Luke came.

"Now as a team... we're starting to see more of his own game as well so I'm over the moon for the kid.

"He's probably come out of a fairly dark place, in that he saw a lot of guys in front of him (at Newcastle) and he's made a massive difference to our team."

Results give credence to Elliott's argument, with the Panthers scoring four wins from four since Walsh made his debut for the club against the Gold Coast in round seven.

That run has seen the Panthers consolidate a position in the top eight, banishing many experts' early tips that they were favourites for this year's wooden spoon.

Elliott believes Walsh's arrival has allowed young stars such as Wade Graham and Jarrod Sammut to play their natural games but he stopped short of suggesting Walsh was the missing piece of his team's jigsaw puzzle.

"I don't want to put that sort of pressure on him, I just want to acknowledge that he has made a difference to the way we're playing," he said.

"He's got some tests ahead, I think Cronulla really tested him last week, and he'll be tested again, but I'm over the moon with his response to that and the players' response around him to that as well.

"I don't think (Sammut) struggled at all (at halfback), I just don't think he was able to find his natural game.

"He's got a coach telling him that if he sees opportunities to go for it and then a coach telling him that he's got to run the team, so it's not an easy role.

"I'm really pleased for Luke primarily and I'm also delighted for what he's brought to the unit."

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