Posted: 10 July, 2012
by The Grill TEam
Mark Geyer: Lewis Losing The Penrith Panthers Captaincy Was Beginning Of The End
Triple M's own Penrith Panthers legend Mark "MG" Geyer shares his thoughts on the shock resignation of Panthers back rower Luke Lewis yesterday.
LISTEN: MG On Lewis Release
"Yesterday, one of the most significant "occurrences" in my club, the Penrith Panthers' 45 year history took place. Luke Lewis, a player who had been in the development system since he was eleven (he's now 28 - that's 17 years as a Panther) asked the club for a release.
"I was shocked. You hear a lot of rumour, innuendo and what-not in rugby league every day of the week. I've been hearing a bit of late that Luke Lewis hasn't been happy at Penrith for some reason.
"I've got no doubt when they took the captaincy off Luke Lewis, that was the catalyst for him to say OK, let me stop and let me re-evaluate exactly where I'm going in my life.
"I expected yesterday to watch the press conference with himself and Phil Gould and thought there might have been some hustle, some bustle. Phil Gould handled himself perfectly... but more so, was Luke Lewis, who always holds his head high, and has integrity coming out of his ying yang.
"He looked straight down the camera and said, I'm 28, 'I need a change. I've been in this joint since I was 11.' At 27, I had the same change, I had to go to Perth to find myself and ended up getting another six years out of my body.
"Let me first preface all this by saying, as soon as they took the captaincy off him, the alarm bells in Luke Lewis' head started to ring. He thought, well maybe I'm not as valued as I think I am at this club. Maybe I could find the grass on the other side of the hill a little bit greener," Geyer concluded.
"It's a really difficult thing, particularly for the Penrith fans. I can actually see this being a situation that's good for Luke Lewis," Matty Johns added.
"Sometimes when you're at a club for a long time, and you start to become part of the furniture, you can't help but be involved in a lot of the politics. It becomes more than just playing, and that can really weigh on you," Johns continued.
"I've looked at Luke Lewis when he got the captaincy, and I saw things suddenly start to weigh on him. He thought there was more expected than there was. The game just wasn't as simple. From the Panthers' point of view, they're looking at a situation where Luke Lewis, (who next year is on about $500,000).. do we want to have a player here who doesn't really want to be here?" Johns ruminated.
"The important thing for me now is where the Panthers go. Who do they sign. How do they rebuild this club," Johns said firmly.
"The Panthers need a circuit breaker... someone who can make a difference. If you look at the mid-Eighties, the Canberra Raiders were a joke, getting flogged every week. They signed Mal Meninga. When Manly broke from being the Northern Eagles back to Manly were struggling at the bottom of the table. They signed Ben Kennedy.
"I believe they'll go after Johnathan Thurston or another big name to attract other players to the club," Johns continued.
"They've got to come back with a Plan B, because losing a player of this calibre and not having a Plan B... the players won't cop that," Geyer added.
What do you think?