You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Small Panthers brace for big Dogs

NZN 7/09/2016 Matt Encarnacion

They're giving up almost 100 games in finals' experience, 70kg in weight and another 100 centimetres in height.

But to Penrith prop Leilani Latu, they're just numbers.

And the only ones that matter are those on the scoreboard at fulltime of Sunday's NRL elimination final against Canterbury at Allianz Stadium.

"It's a mental thing for us. Besides Melbourne this year, we've competed against every pack that we've come up against even though weight-wise we're not really there," Latu told AAP.

"To us, they're just numbers. On the day, it'll depend on which forward pack can get it over the other. It doesn't matter if you're taller, bigger or heavier than us, we'll contend every minute."

While the Panthers finished one spot higher than the Bulldogs at the end of the regular season, the week-one finals hosts lag on a number of key categories against their rivals.

Canterbury boast a combined 117 finals games worth of experience compared to Penrith's 23; a total 1000kg against the Panthers' 934kg; and 1524cm to their rivals' 1441cm.

The key return of Sam Kasiano from his two-game ban for kicking means the Bulldogs have five players over 110kg, compared to Penrith who have only Latu.

So on paper, the Bulldogs' much-vaunted forward pack has it all over the the Panthers.

Penrith star Trent Merrin said it wasn't just their opposition's renowned size that made them arguably the most dangerous forward pack in the competition.

"Their size, their brutality and their skill factor that they have amongst that middle pack," he said.

"They're like halves in big bodies. You've just got to be on your toes and be ready to grind and play that tough style of footy against them."

He said Canterbury's advantage in finals know-how is also critical, calling the Belmore-based outfit also one of the most consistent teams in the league.

"They keep putting themselves in that position every year and the more you play in it, the better you get," Merrin said.

"They've just been building that consistency over the years and they feel real comfortable in that sort of arena."

BIG DOGS AGAINST THE TOP CATS (Forwards over 110kg):


* Greg Eastwood - 112kg

* David Klemmer - 116kg

* Sam Kasiano - 130kg

* Tim Browne - 111kg

* Tony Williams - 120kg


* Leilani Latu - 115kg

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon