• Will Cashmore

The Set Of Six: Mediocre NRL Players – Penrith Panthers

Don’t mess with the Riff, because just like a real wild Panther, the Riff will bite back.


The Penriff Panthers, sorry force of habit...The Penrith Panthers will this Sunday enter the cauldron of an NRL Grand Final for the first time in 17 years.


Not since their marvellous Premiership triumph in the 2003 decider, has the pink pride of Penrith reached a big dance, but never fear Panthers fans because your time is coming.


Although, you know the drill and you know why I’m here.


I’m here to make you feel bad. YAY.


No matter how exciting the team is these days, there have been some dark times not too far back, thanks to some truly awful Panthers players whose dirty laundry has been aired below.


Not like you might be thinking though……I leave the good stuff to Tyrone May and his iPhone.


Good luck on Sunday you cheeky Riff Rousers.


Matt Robinson (2012-2014) – 38 Games, 4 Tries


To begin with, we remember a couple ‘stars’ who were apart of Penrith’s line-up the last time they almost went the distance. Penrith were on a tear in the back half of 2014, and off the back of a shock win over the Roosters, were just one win away from a Grand Final. However, they fell to the giant-killing Bulldogs in the Prelim.


Perhaps they failed at the last hurdle, because there was far too much mediocre still spread throughout the team.


Look no further than Matt Robinson, the bland back-rower absolutely no one would remember. Seriously, this guy’s name sounds like the default in a Create Your Own Player Mode on an NRL Video Game.


Rugby League is in the entertainment industry, so sorry Matt, but a name like Matt Robinson isn’t going to cut the mustard of success.


Then again, there is an Immortal named Andrew Johns. Hmmmm. Although, everyone calls him Joey Johns. You see my point.


Will Smith (2014-2016) – 21 Games, 2 Tries, 4 Goals


Moving on to a bloke who almost immediately disproves my point from above.


On the surface, Will Smith is the most generic name on Planet Earth. However, when you share a name with one of Hollywood’s most well-known and liked figures, your plain name gets shot into the stratosphere of cool.


In saying that, it really sucks that Will Smith the NRL Player, couldn’t even lace up his namesakes boots in the realm of entertaining, good or even just bearable on any level.


Smith has always struggled for consistency throughout his footy career, despite the fact that he started with a real bang. After paying his dues as a drifter in the NSW Cup scene, he got a start partnering Jamie Soward in the halves, incredibly in the final 8 games of 2014, including both finals appearances.


It has been all downhill from there sadly, he’s now at Parramatta although I doubt the Blue and Gold Army even bother to realise.


Travis Burns (2010-2012) – 55 Games, 13 Tries, 25 Goals, 1 Field Goal


I was one click away from replacing this charisma vacuum, before I saw where he was born.


Travis Burns was born in the rural town of Texas, Queensland. That will never not be cool.


Sadly for Travis, the famous saying ‘Everything’s Bigger in Texas’ doesn’t really apply to him, since his 127 game NRL Career faded into the deep distance very quickly after he left for the English Super League in 2012.


A perfectly OK halfback, Travis was a handy goalkicker and possessed a tad of creativity, but he was never going to win you that elusive Premiership.


Perhaps his most famous moment, was getting sent off in 2012 for his coat hanger on Roosters shit bloke Marty Kennedy.



I like to call it: The Tamest Send Off In NRL History.


You be the judge….. IT WASN’T THAT HIGH


Adrian Purtell (2010-2011) – 46 Games, 15 Tries


When you search ‘boring synonym’ into Google, chances are you will find the words: dull, tedious, and Adrian Purtell.


This bald-headed centre really struggled to maintain relevance throughout his career, despite playing week in week out for 6 years both at Canberra, before moving to the foot of the Blue Mountains.


However, Penrith may not have been his second and final NRL club, if he didn’t make one of history’s stupidest decisions.


In 2008 Craig Bellamy, a man famous for turning spuds into gold, tried to get Purtell from the Raiders to the Storm. Yet, Adrian turned him down. THE NERVE OF THIS BLOKE.


Let’s compare how both sides fared the following year shall we – Canberra finished 13th, whilst Melbourne only won the freaking Premiership.


When you look up ‘idiot’ in the dictionary chances are you’ll find a photo of Adrian Purtell next to it.


Isaac John (2013-2015) – 26 Games, 5 Tries


The signs and symptoms of being a Mediocre NRL Player are different for every player. That’s what makes this such a niche but fun topic.


Isaac John has two key indicators for mediocrity, and they are both in relation to perhaps his two greatest career highlights.


Number One is the fact that in just his second game for Penrith (his third club to that point), Isaac bagged a hat-trick in the Panthers 62-6 rout over NZ Warriors. This happened in Round 10, 2013. You’d like to think this would set Isaac up for big things at Penrith, but alas he only managed 26 games in three seasons before being punted.


Number Two is the ludicrous circumstances which saw him go from Penrith’s NSW Cup team, to making his Test Match debut for New Zealand within the space of two weeks in 2014.



Seriously, how do these things happen?


Kaide Ellis (2018-2019) – 8 Games


Ending with a whimper today rather than a bang. Would you believe I just could not find a 2020 Panthers player to call mediocre.


Some players enjoy magical debuts, lik