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Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Page: 20716

Mr PRICE (9:20 PM) —I want to talk about a certain event that occurred on Sunday evening at Telstra Stadium, but I almost feel as though I need to make a personal explanation to say that I am a dyed-in-the-wool Parramatta supporter and always have been. But my electorate is in the Penrith Panthers draw area and I have to say that the majority of my electorate are wildly enthusiastic Panthers supporters. I like to think of the Panthers as my No. 2 team.

Mr Brough —Particularly now! You opportunist!

Mr PRICE —I am sure the honourable member will agree with me that it was an epic grand final of the greatest game in the world. It was billed as the cafe latte set versus the fibro homes—principally, I think, because in 2001 the Panthers had got the wooden spoon and in 2002 they came third last in the competition. It was only this year that they became minor premiers. Even though they were minor premiers, I have to say that everyone—I guess me included—felt that the Roosters were going to be the favourites to win the competition. But it was a terrific game, played in atrocious conditions, and it was a credit to both sides. Although the Roosters lost, it cannot be said that they did not play their very best. They can stand up with pride at their effort and determination.

I have asked a number of people who also watched the game and, like me, they were very nervous in that first 20 minutes, and I do not quite know why. I thought the commentary from Channel 9 was a little biased. I have the greatest regard for them. I thought that after 20 minutes, when it was still nil-nil, the Panthers had done exceedingly well to be in that position. It was only in the last 15 minutes that Channel 9 conceded that the Panthers were going to win. I thought the magnificent tackle by Scott Sattler—an adornment to the game, who was playing his last game with the Panthers—when he cut down the Roosters' winger was a turning point in the game. If the Roosters had scored a try, the momentum may have shifted very much the other way. I would like to congratulate the Panthers club, particularly the coach, John Lang, who is a very modest man.

Mr Brough —A great Queenslander!

Mr PRICE —In spite of that, he is a great coach and a wonderful bloke. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Royce Simmons, and to captain Craig Gower and all the Penrith players. I will borrow from Jack Gibson and say, on behalf of all the people in my electorate—and I suspect all the people in the western suburbs and all those who tuned in and who were really caught up supporting the underdog—to the Panthers: you played hard, done good and done us all proud. The big winner was not only the Panthers but also the game of rugby league.