Nathan Cleary has thrown his full assist behind Mitch Kenny, warning critics will probably be confirmed fallacious when Penrith’s new No.9 steps out on Saturday night time to interchange premiership-winning star Api Koroisau.
Koroisau’s transfer to the Tigers within the low season has opened the door for Kenny to make the beginning spot his personal after biding his time on the bench for plenty of years.
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Kenny’s largest energy is his defence, which is why Panthers coach Ivan Cleary began him in all three finals matches final 12 months so he might blunt Penrith’s opponents earlier than Koroisau got here on after 20 minutes to run rings across the gassed defenders.
Losing somebody with a lot crafty across the ruck raises questions over whether or not Penrith’s reign is about to finish, however Kenny’s teammates are backing him to make the function his personal as they push for 3 titles on the trot.
“They can do what they want, but I’m very confident he’ll prove them wrong. I have full faith in Mitch and I trust him as much as I trust anyone in the team,” Cleary stated.
“Api is a big loss. I don’t think there are too many players who can do what Api does in the comp, but we’ve got to play to Mitch’s strengths. I think he showed that through the finals series last year.
“He’s one of our best players and he’s definitely underrated with what he’s done for our team and he drives the culture with what we want to be like. He’s a hard worker, a great defender and he’s constantly trying to develop and adapt to our style.”
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Kenny, 25, has seen the feedback on-line from his detractors, however he’s not fazed by the scepticism and says individuals are entitled to query his credentials given he’s but to show himself persistently at this stage.
“It doesn’t annoy me,” he stated.
“I think it’s natural because he (Koroisau) is one of the game’s premier hookers. I’m pretty unproven and haven’t played much first grade, so of course those discussions are going to be had. It doesn’t bother me too much.
“There’s always pressure, but especially getting a starting role in a team as good as this, there is probably a bit of added pressure. I look to those things internally and judge my criticism with stuff like that off the people here in this building.”
Starting these finals matches and successful the title instilled a substantial amount of confidence within the native junior, however he is aware of this season is a serious step up from that area of interest function the place he tallied 110 minutes in three video games.
It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be requested to play 80 minutes at any stage this season, with Jaeman Salmon and Soni Luke on deck to ease the load, however Kenny says he’s obtained the motor to do the job if required.
“I think it’s in me. I’m pretty fit,” he stated forward of the World Club Challenge.
“It’s one thing to be fit and play 80 minutes, and it’s another thing to be out there for 80 minutes and be effective the whole time. I’ll get a gauge of that, but I’d like to be (out there for 80 minutes).”
Kenny will get the prospect to check out his new combos with Cleary and the remainder of the squad in Saturday’s conflict towards St Helens the place the Panthers are aiming to win their first World Club Challenge.
The previous two matches have been cancelled due to the pandemic, however followers lastly get the prospect to see a battle for the ages between the two-time defending NRL premiers and the four-time Super League champions.
“It’s a unique situation for us because we haven’t been able to play in one yet,” Cleary stated.
“It’s a great challenge, and a team like St Helens deserves our utmost respect because they’ve won four comps in a row which is pretty unbelievable. It’s a great opportunity for us and the club because we’ve never won one before.”