Penrith coach Ivan Cleary believes it was more than just emotion that inspired the Warriors to their historic NRL victory over St George Illawarra last week.
The Panthers will look to rebound from their disappointing draw with Newcastle last weekend when they host the Warriors in Campbelltown on Friday.
The Warriors will no doubt be on a high after becoming the first team in the NRL era to complete their first 40 sets in their 18-0 win over the Dragons.
The match was their first since the New Zealand-based club was forced to relocate to Australia due to coronavirus-enforced travel restrictions.
Like most across the league Cleary, a former Warriors coach, has plenty of admiration for the sacrifices his old club made to get the game going again.
“You can only really imagine because we don’t really know what they’ve been going through. (It’s) definitely a good sacrifice for the game,” Cleary said on Thursday.
“They probably didn’t have much of a choice, but I’ve obviously got a soft spot for the club. I spent ten years of my life there.
“It was good to see them get up and have a win last week.”
However that’s where the niceties end for the former Warriors fullback, who saw plenty of improvement in Stephen Kearney’s men against the Dragons.
“Emotion generally speaking only takes you so far,” Cleary said.
“I presume emotion may have had some role in that – I don’t really know the details – (but) emotion or no emotion, they were pretty impressive in their victory.
“We’re definitely getting ourselves ready for a tough game.”
Cleary has made just one change to the side from last week, with second-rower Liam Martin returning from injury to replace Billy Burns on the bench.
The Panthers are again without star halfback Nathan Cleary, who has one game left to complete his suspension for breaking social distancing rules.
Asked whether his son cost the team two points by being out, Cleary replied: “We’ll never know .. I didn’t speak to him about it.”
Kearney has been forced to make two changes, with Peta Hiku (rib) and Agnatius Paasi (suspension) replaced by new face Poasa Faamausili and Josh Curran.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Penrith have won seven of their past eight home games against the Warriors with an average scoreline of 31-14.
* Penrith are averaging a league-high six line breaks per game, while the Warriors have a league-worst 1.3 per game.
* Penrith are looking to stay undefeated through their opening four games of a season for the third time in their history, and first time since 1997.