Oh how Anthony Griffin would love to break his duck against his old team.
A heart-breaking defeat to Canterbury on the buzzer means Penrith suffered consecutive narrow defeats to start the NRL season, leaving coach Anthony Griffin still searching for his first win at the club.
His next chance is one of the toughest but also one of the most enticing for the former Broncos coach – against competition favourites Brisbane on Saturday.
Griffin spent four seasons with the clipboard at Red Hill before making way for mastercoach Wayne Bennett’s return at the end of the 2014 season.
He spent last year as a consultant to Queensland Cup side Central Capras before swiftly replacing the sacked Ivan Cleary at the foot of the mountains late last year.
And while the Panthers have yet to make an impact under his guidance, his players are under no illusion that their coach would love to chalk up victory No.1 against the old club.
“He hasn’t come out with anything to us just yet but he’s probably holding a little grudge in there somewhere,” centre Peta Hiku said on Monday.
“It should be good for him this week, I think he’s looking forward to it.”
Veteran Peter Wallace, another former Bronco, said Griffin was just like any other player coming up against his old team.
“You always want to prove people wrong. I’m sure he’s got a point to prove, as do all of us,” he said.
Asked if Griffin had a point to prove against Bennett, Wallace said: “I suppose so. You always want to test yourself against the best and at the moment they’re the best in the comp. So it’d be a tough one.”
Wallace, who was sent packing by Griffin at the end of 2013, said the new Penrith coach hadn’t changed too much from his time at the Broncos, where he led them to one game short of a grand final in 2011.
“He’s still got the same values. The way he wants to play the game is very similar,” he said.
“Obviously he would’ve learnt a bit over his time. He had a few years coaching first grade so you obviously learn a bit. I’m sure he took a lot away from his time in Brisbane.”
Captain Matt Moylan is likely to spend another week on the sidelines for a nagging back issue, while outside backs Dean Whare (calf) and Waqa Blake (cork) were also notable absentees from Monday’s training.