Rugby league: How Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were used to inspire NRL finalist Penrith Panthers



Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter with the Webb Ellis Cup after winning the Rugby World Cup Final. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

All Blacks greats Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were drafted in by the Panthers to help them prepare for their bid to win tonight’s NRL grand final against the Melbourne Storm.

The Sydney Telegraph has revealed some of the tips the two All Blacks World Cup winners gave the Penrith side.

But while Carter exclaimed “Go Panthers”, it seems that McCaw has a foot in both grand final camps.

Carter – who reportedly charges up to $40,000 a speaking engagement – gave the Panthers a freebie Zoom speech before their final training run under Ivan Cleary, who was also a grand finalist with the New Zealand Warriors as a player and coach.

Carter emphasised “staying in the zone” and “trusting each other” with Panthers pivot and goal kicker Nathan Cleary particularly “absorbed”. Nathan Cleary was growing up in New Zealand when Carter and McCaw were at the peak of their powers in the All Blacks.

During the week, it was revealed McCaw has been a visitor to the Storm camp over recent years, and has played a big part in helping their legendary captain Cameron Smith deal with public criticism.

But like Carter, he was steered towards helping the Panthers by their goalkicking coach Daryl Halligan, a former Kiwi. McCaw spoke to the team before their playoff win over the Roosters.

Northlander James Fisher-Harris, who has had a brilliant NRL season leading the Panthers pack, said the documentary about McCaw entitled Chasing Great had a big impact.

Coach Cleary has used messages from it in team talks and game plans.

“I loved watching Richie McCaw, he’s up there with Jonah Lomu…guys like that,” he said.

“Richie, he has a dig, he has a go…I saw his documentary which showed the mentality that he has and he’s a champion, so there is a lot to learn from someone like him.”

Panthers assistant Trent Barrett said McCaw was strong on “staying present and staying in the moment”.

“Everyone has got a different role to play and that’s what we’ve trained for, to put ourselves in a position that we know when we’re under pressure, things are going to hold up,” Barrett said.

“He spoke about that. He’s one of the best, if not the best All Black that has ever played, so I immediately think the players have to take something from him.”

The Panthers claimed the minor premiership this year, thanks to a record 17-match winning streak.

They have also recruited world champion Aussie surfer Mick Fanning – who comes from Penrith – to inspire them. Fanning told the team to be aware of key opposition players who could be as “dangerous as a shark”.


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