The Penrith Panthers insist they didn’t mean any disrespect to Cronulla after sending the club the wrong allocation of tickets for the Easter Sunday clash at Pepper Stadium.
Sharks captain Paul Gallen took aim at the Panthers following his side’s 28-2 win on Sunday, criticising Penrith for providing the families of the players with general admission tickets on the hill rather than the usual grandstand allocation.
It came after Sharks coach Shane Flanagan fired a shot at Panthers general manager Phil Gould for comments he made earlier in the year suggesting Cronulla had won a “soft premiership”.
However, Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher insists the tension between the two clubs had nothing to do with the ticket allocation, apologising to the Sharks for what has been deemed a clerical error.
“This had nothing to do with that,” Fletcher said of the tension between the two clubs.
“We’re not into that. You’d be drawing long straws considering those things. That won’t happen here while I’m running the show. We’re here to do the right thing. That was just a mishap that happened. I’ll just touch base with Lyall [Sharks boss Lyall Gorman] and apologise.”
The Panthers sent the tickets to Cronulla a month ago, allocating almost double the usual number of tickets provided to opposition teams.
However, the club sent the wrong bunch of tickets to the club, unaware they had provided the Sharks with general admission tickets instead of grandstand seating.
The Sharks only opened the envelope a few days out from the Easter Sunday match and when they raised their concerns with the Panthers, the club had exhausted its grandstand allocation.
“We sent the wrong envelope out and they didn’t open it until three days prior to the game to give to their wives and family,” Fletcher said.
“When they did open them they realised they are just general admission tickets. When they rang up we had sold all our grandstand tickets. Nobody does this stuff on purpose. We respect them. I’ll ring up on Tuesday and apologise.
“We didn’t set out to do this intentionally. It’s just a pity – there aren’t many games you have all the seats sold under the grandstand. It’s a good thing to happen as a club, but obviously we apologise for our mistake. It was nothing sinister. We wouldn’t do that. We look after other clubs better than anybody.”
It was an Easter Sunday to forget for the Panthers, ambushed both on the field during the match and off the field after it.
Skipper Matt Moylan, who returned from a club-imposed one-game suspension for breaking the team protocols, has maintained he still wants the captaincy despite strong suggestions he wanted to rid himself of the burden.
“Nothing’s changed. It’s a role that is new to me and growing into and learning on the run,” Moylan said.
“It’s something I’ll have to keep learning and growing as a leader. We’ve got guys like [Peter] Wallace, [Trent] Merrin and Jimmy Tamou that are out there leading. Even Nathan [Cleary] leading the side around at such a young age.We have plenty of players that show leadership, but we just haven’t been getting the results so all that stuff starts to get asked.
“You’ll find Wall says a bit, Mez says a bit and I’ll say a bit. It’s not just one of us out there leading, there are a few of us. I don’t think I’ve ever been the biggest talker. Then you have guys with Wall and Mez’s experience, it’s only going to benefit the side with them throwing their advice as well with me throwing a bit in as well.”
Moylan said he addressed the playing group last week an apologised for letting them down after leaving the team hotel despite instructions from coach Anthony Griffin to stay in.
“I apologised to them the first session back we were in,” Moylan said.
“We had a good chat about it then. They would have been disappointed that I went out. I have to repay them now.”