VETERAN prop Brent Kite says Penrith's forward depth will be a key asset in their quest to return to the NRL finals for the first time since 2010.
In a week in which former NSW front-rower Tim Grant was released from the final two years of his contract to join South Sydney next season, Kite said the battle among the Panthers forwards for spots in coach Ivan Cleary's 17 has been a crucial ingredient in early season success.
Kite, Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown and Adam Docker have all impressed so far.
"With everyone firing it is going to be really competitive for spots," Kite said.
"With the depth we have there it is a good indication of how we are going.
"The effort has been week-in week-out, that is why even in our losses it hasn't been ugly.
"I am confident we can improve pretty dramatically."
"A premiership winner with Manly, Kite missed threw weeks with a leg injury before returning with a strong effort in the Panthers' 18-2 loss to South Sydney last week.
The Panthers face another tough test up front on Monday against the table-topping Gold Coast with a forward pack that boasts the likes of Greg Bird, Nate Myles and an in-form David Taylor.
Plenty are questioning how the Titans are leading the premiership race.
Not so Panther captain Kevin Kingston,
"I think they are playing the best. Where the ladder is at the moment is where you deserve to be," he said.
"I have seen a few of their games and they are playing really well. Their core players are all playing really well and they are winning the tight games, which is what you have to do."