Few people are better placed to spill on the secrets behind the Panthers’ astounding success than Scott Sorensen.
After two stints with Cronulla and a brief time at Canberra, the unheralded Penrith backrower arrived at the Panthers in time for their consecutive NRL premiership triumphs.
Sorensen was catapulted off the bench in Penrith’s 2021 grand final win over South Sydney and again in its 28-12 victory over Parramatta in Sunday night’s decider.
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The Panthers’ success extends a long way beyond the heroics of their NRL side, with Sunday’s win over the Eels completing an historic sweep of all grades.
Never before had a club won the SG Ball, Jersey Flegg, NSW Cup and NRL competitions in one season.
In another sign of the Panthers’ modern-day greatness, Sunday’s win saw them join the Roosters as the only two clubs to have clinched back-to-back titles in the NRL era.
Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now
Sorensen raved about the Panthers’ ingredients for success in an interview with Wide World of Sports in the sheds, declaring “we don’t do it like anybody else, or anything I’ve ever seen”.
“We touch on our culture a lot and I feel like that’s exactly what it is. I feel like a lot of people think that our culture is going out there and playing and winning, but the culture starts when I walk in the door in the morning and I get a handshake and I get asked how I’m going,” Sorensen said.
“I feel like that’s so unique and so special and just so genuine and so organic.
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“I feel like that’s something that (Panthers coach) Ivan (Cleary) has built here.
“It’s just such a safe environment and such a great environment, such a unique environment.
“The coaching staff and what they do and the way they present to us and prepare for us — it’s nothing I’ve ever seen.
“You add to that the captains with Nathan (Cleary) and (Isaah) Yeo. Unbelievable.”
Yeo’s grand final week began with an individual honour at the Dally M Awards night, with the brilliant lock claiming captain of the year.
“It’s the best,” Sorensen said of being captained by Yeo and Cleary.
“I feel like, again, it comes back to our culture. That’s putting us first. It’s just the best. It’s so good.”
‘Words can’t explain it’
Sorensen penned a one-year deal with the Panthers ahead of the 2021 season and netted a two-year extension last July, ensuring he’d remain at Penrith until at least the end of 2023.
While Cleary, Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o, Apisai Koroisau, Viliame Kikau and several other superstars call the Panthers home, the likes of Sorensen, Mitch Kenny and Spencer Leniu play vital but understated roles.
In 30 minutes of game time on Sunday, Sorensen piled up 28 tackles and scored a try, pouncing on a Cleary grubber in the 28th minute.
“Penrith gave me an opportunity. I’m not blind to the fact of my age and that sort of thing. They gave me an opportunity and I just thought, ‘All right, this might be the last one, so I’ve got to grab it with two hands’,” Sorensen said.
“I’m so extremely grateful to this club.
“Where my career was going and what I was doing, and to be given the opportunity here, and now to be in this position I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
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