Panthers unfazed by poor record at Suncorp

Coach Ivan Cleary is not daunted by Penrith's poor NRL record at Suncorp Stadium.
Coach Ivan Cleary is not daunted by Penrith's poor NRL record at Suncorp Stadium.

It's the NRL graveyard that can put a bullet through Penrith's title ambitions.

But Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has urged his men to embrace the challenge and keep their finals dream alive when they face Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

With just four games left in the regular season, the seventh-placed Panthers go on the road to face the eighth-placed Broncos in a high-stakes encounter.

"We've been running like that for some time, but clearly this game has pretty obvious significance for both teams," Cleary said on Thursday.

And Penrith will arrive with the weight of history against them.

The Panthers have lost seven of their past eight, and 11 of their past 14, at Suncorp Stadium in a stretch dating back to 2004.

Even Cleary has a horror record at the old Lang Park as a coach, having lost eight of nine games at the venue with the Warriors, Wests Tigers, and Panthers.

But Cleary said he's rarely been daunted by one of the game's most difficult trips.

"It's one of those places where just turning up, you feel grateful," he said.

"I wouldn't know my personal record. I've had a few beatings up there, I know that, but I've had a few wins as well.

"It's always a good place to play in. I think the players feel that.

"It's more excitement and trying to get them focused on actually doing their job rather than trying to get up for it or anything like that."

Their record at Suncorp may not be their only challenge, with Penrith losing nine consecutive matches refereed by Ashley Klein.

"That's a stat and it's a real stat. You can't help but be a little bit alarmed," Cleary said.

"(But) Ash is a very experienced ref, I've always found him to be very fair in my dealings with him.

"I don't know why that record is like it is. It sounds like we're due for a win though."

Friday's game is the first time the Panthers have been officiated by Klein since Cleary was cleared of wrongdoing for a halftime incident involving the whistleblower last month.

"Some refs have traits or things that they do... but I think the players get that more than anyone else," Cleary said.

"They get a feel for what particular refs are more into and what they look for.

"Ash is one of the best refs, very experienced, and I'm sure he'll do a good job tomorrow."

Australian Associated Press