On Saturday Penrith Panthers, the side many thought to be the best in the world, were stunned by Super League Champions St Helens who defeated them in their own backyard to be crowned Champions of the World in the World Club Challenge.
A lot has been made of the win and whether it was a trial game for the Panthers of much much more.
At the heart of the Penrith side is perhaps the world’s best player in halfback Nathan Cleary who looked like the hero when he levelled the game in the 79th minute.
He has now insisted on NRL.com that the Panthers took the game seriously but just didn’t adapt to the game well enough.
This comes after many suggested it was indeed just a trial game.
It was his first game since the World Cup Final.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to start, we were shooting ourselves in the foot too often. I thought after half-time we knew what we needed to do to get back into the game, but we just lacked periods of momentum and that was hurting us.
“They scrambled really well, they defended really well and it felt that they were always coming at us. That’s something that comes back down to me, evolving as the game goes on and adapting to that and yeah didn’t do it well enough tonight.
“The intensity was there, we just gave away too much ball. Our preparation and the respect was there, you don’t win four comps in a row if you’re not a good footy side. We knew what was coming but we just didn’t adapt well.”
Cleary got some backlash for his celebrations when he levelled the game but has been defended for them by halfback partner Jarome Luai who said “it was a high pressure kick” to the Canberra Times.