NRL news | Penrith Panthers Dave O’Neill speech made players ‘cringe’, Danny Weidler report says

Penrith chairman Dave O’Neill gave a pre-grand final speech that made Panthers players “cringe”, a new report says.

Nine NRL reporter Danny Weidler, writing in his Sun Herald column, revealed that O’Neill had given a speech at the captain’s run on grand final eve. The address came off the back of two other speeches.

It was “heartfelt” but did not go down well, Weidler reported.

“It made us cringe,” one player told Weidler. “It was all this gladiatorial stuff about who we are representing. We know all of that.

“We know we play for the Penrith community and we are proud of that and don’t need reminding. We saw him walking up to us and were wondering what is going on here. The boys didn’t know what the point of it was.”

Weidler reported that O’Neill had been dubbed ‘Uncle Dave’ by some players, with the feeling that “he is trying to mimic the game’s most revered chairman, the Roosters’ Nick Politis”.

There are questions being asked as to whether O’Neill is the right man to lead the Panthers, Weidler wrote, given the raft of crises the club has endured alongside its successes.

Penrith lost the grand final 26-20 to Melbourne, having trailed 22-0 at half-time, and young star Brent Naden tested positive to cocaine after the match.

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