Former Penrith stars Lewis Brown and Apisai Koroisau have expressed surprise at the dumping of ex-teammates Jamie Soward and James Segeyaro as the Manly utilities prepare to meet their old NRL club for the first time.
Manly host Penrith at Brookvale Oval on Sunday in a crucial NRL clash with both sides sitting outside the top eight and separated by just two points.
Koroisau and Brown come up against the Panthers for the first time since joining Manly from the foot of the mountains for the 2016 season.
It is also the first time Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett faces the club he was a dumped from as assistant after news of his rise to the head coaching role at Manly came through.
Both Soward and Segeyaro had been key parts of the Panthers under axed former coach Ivan Cleary. But that is no longer the case under his successor Anthony Griffin.
Segeyaro appeared entrenched as Penrith’s No.9 prompting Koroisau’s move to the northern beaches.
“There have been some shock omissions,” Koroisau said.
“They have changed the side around a bit since last year, Griffin has really put his foot down in making those changes.
“It was a big surprise. I thought Segeyaro would be one of their pillars there.
“Soward too he has been on of their leaders but it looks like their coach is taking a stand.”
Segeyaro will spend a second successive week with the Panthers’ NSW Cup side, while Soward was dumped after a below-par effort in the last-start loss to Melbourne.
In a Manly side significantly rejigged due to injury, Koroisau will play as a makeshift pivot and Brown in the back-row against the Panthers.
“I am obviously surprised, but at the same time Anthony Griffin has put the word out there that if people are not performing or he doesn’t think are performing he will come down hard on them,” Brown said.
“They will both bounce back from what has come their way. I am pretty sure you will see them back up in first grade pretty soon.”