Penrith say their tough run into the NRL finals will serve them well come the post-season.
Penrith’s draw running into the NRL finals makes for grim reading but they say it will only sharpen them for the business end of the season.
The Panthers face a horror draw in the final six weeks of the regular season beginning with a clash against an equally desperate Canterbury on Friday night.
In the run home, Penrith will come up against two fellow top four teams in Manly and the Bulldogs, another two top eight teams – North Queensland and Melbourne – and another two sides on the edge of semi-final contention in St George Illawarra and the Warriors.
A common criticism of the Panthers this year is that they have been the beneficiaries of a soft draw, however, fullback Matt Moylan says they deserve their spot on the ladder.
He said they are relishing the chance to test themselves against some of the best sides in the competition in the lead into the finals.
“It’s a tough draw but going into the finals you probably want that because it’s going to be tough if you’re in the finals,” he said.
“You don’t really want to be playing easy games one week and then be playing one of the best teams in the comp the next week.
“I think it’s probably going to benefit us leading in.”
The Panthers and Bulldogs both go into Friday’s clash at ANZ Stadium inside the top four but desperate to break two-game losing streaks.
The Bulldogs will benefit from the return of NSW State of Origin five-eighth Josh Reynolds from suspension.
The Panthers pipped the Bulldogs 18-16 when they met in round three thanks to a clutch Moylan sideline conversion on the siren.
The 23-year-old fullback has been one of the Panthers’ best this year.
He said being selected in Brad Fittler’s City squad for the City-Country clash earlier in the year had been a turning point in his career.
He went on to be named City’s players’ player and did his future representative chances no harm with a standout performance.
He said he had not contemplated representative honours up until that point and it had boosted his self belief.
“I’m loving it at the moment, I’m really enjoying my footy,” he said.
“I’m feeling really confident so that’s helping.
“Playing that City game, playing that week, I got a lot of confidence out of that week in camp.
“And the form we had going here, those two mixed helped me get a bit more confident.”