AAP Rugby

Managing NRL load easier for Panthers

By AAP Newswire

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said managing the relentless NRL season has been made easier by high spirits following their ninth straight win on Friday night.

At this point of the NRL season teams would usually have had up to two byes by now, but after 12 consecutive weeks of football there is another six to go before finals.

On Thursday night senior coaches Trent Robinson and Craig Bellamy said the intensity of the matches and games every week had taken its toll on squad health.

And while the Panthers have fared better than most in terms of major injuries, Cleary said managing the workload for players was made easier when they are happy and winning.

"It's been a lot easier when we're winning, obviously morale is high," he said.

"We've done it mostly through training at this point and that's how we'll continue to look at it at this stage, but it's definitely an ongoing thing."

The Panthers made history on Friday night with a club record nine consecutive wins, but there is still improvement in the side.

Against the Warriors the Panthers scored all but two of their points in the first half before letting the opposition back into the contest.

They have lost just one game this season, but Cleary says there is improvement in the side.

"Like most teams we've had our injuries and guys coming in and out of the team," he said.

"Dylan Edwards is our fullback and obviously he hasn't played much so that affects cohesion a little bit.

"I definitely feel we've got more in us and we'll keep chipping away at that."

One area that is humming along is their ability to build pressure.

On Friday night the Panthers forced 10 line drop outs compared to just one for the Warriors.

"Being able to build pressure is a key element in being able to succeed in the NRL, we feel as though we've been doing it quite well," Cleary said.

"Tonight we did it really well, but we've just got to land the knock out punch.

"We did it at the start of the game which was pleasing but I'm not too fussed about that, that will come.

"It was a very difficult night to attack and I think the more we attacked the more confidence the Warriors got, and that can happen too.

"We got the job done, so that's the main thing."