James Segeyaro says Penrith need to rediscover the attitude that took them to within one game of last year’s NRL grand final in the face of their mounting injury toll.
The Panthers will receive a boost against Canterbury on Saturday with influential playmaker Jamie Soward to return from a shoulder injury, however they still find themselves down on troops.
Brent Kite (leg), Josh Mansour (ankle), Ben Murdoch-Masila (ankle), Apisai Koroisau (shoulder), George Jennings (leg) and Robert Jennings (knee) are due back in coming weeks.
However, Matt Moylan (ankle) and Jamal Idris (knee) continue extended stints out.
Segeyaro said his team, sitting ninth, could not afford to make excuses and needed to take lessons from their 2014 campaign when they made it deep into the finals despite running short on players regularly throughout the year.
“We had a mid-season camp before the bye and it helped everyone think about where they want to be come September,” he said.
“We had a think about our goals and revisited those that we set at the start of the year.
“It made us realise that all is not lost.
“It was just good for us, everyone writes us off but it’s what we believe in and how we believe in ourselves as a group.
“Whatever people believe doesn’t really worry us – it’s all about us.”
At ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, the Panthers will renew hostilities with the Bulldogs, the team who knocked them out of last year’s finals.
Penrith took some revenge in round one this year when they defeated the Bulldogs 24-18.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler has not named his State of Origin stars, Trent Hodkinson, Josh Jackson, David Klemmer and Brett and Josh Morris, however the Panthers expect them all to line up.
The Panthers’ biggest task will be stopping the Bulldogs’ monster pack.
Hooker Segeyaro said Soward held the key, despite their five-eighth standing at just 176cm and tipping the scales at 93kgs.
They desperately missed Soward’s kicking game in their 20-0 loss to Melbourne a fortnight ago and Segeyaro said they needed his long boot to turn the Dogs’ big men around.
“Jamie’s kicking, talking and just his presence is massive. He brings a lot of confidence into the group,” Segeyaro said.
“His control of the game is very good. He will be massive for us especially when we’re going blow for blow with Canterbury this weekend.
“We really need someone to step up and kick long to turn their big pack around.”