Panthers stars have opened up on Storm players mocking their Mt Druitt roots in footage which was shown as motivation, sparking their stunning 2021 preliminary final win.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Penrith’s players who were raised in Mt Druitt were shown vision of Melbourne’s grand final celebrations by assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo.
Ciraldo saved the clip, originally published as an Instagram story, which is no longer public, telling his players in the lead-up to the Panthers’ huge 10-6 win they needed to “protect where you come from”.
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Now with the two elite teams again readying to do battle in Magic Round, star centre Stephen Crichton has revealed how his teammates used the footage as motivation.
“There was a short video, they were doing the (hand) signals and doing the dance,” Crichton said to the SMH.
“The boys didn’t want to use it as hate, where we came out and try to force things and give penalties away … (but) ‘Ciro’ (Ciraldo) said, ‘You need to protect where you come from’.
“We play hard because not many people from Mt Druitt get into this position like us. When you see videos like that, they can’t stick up for themselves, but those of us on the field can. We played for the area and our families and it was good we could come away with the win.”
Crichton also revealed who was the main culprit in the Storm dressing room.
“It was mainly Jahrome Hughes, he was on the drink, like most of the first-grade boys after you win a grand final. We did the exact same thing when we won a grand final. But it was a bit of motivation for us heading into that prelim,” Crichton said.
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Another player who hails from Mt Druitt, Brian To’o, said the rivalry was becoming of the NRL’s best and there were “no words to explain” the Storm’s grand final celebrations.
The club’s Saturday night clash is set to be a classic, with the Panthers having suffered their first loss at the hands of the Eels in Round 9.
The mountain men had a poor game by their lofty standards and will have to improve if they want to match the Storm, who have been in scintillating attacking form, recording 162 points over the past three games.
The Storm and Panthers are one-a-piece in their last two match-ups, with Bellamy’s side blowing the Panthers away in Round 20 before Cleary’s side bounced back to knock them out of finals contention.
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