All good with Panthers and Raiders' Blues

·2-min read

It was the feud that threatened to blow up in the NRL but Penrith and Canberra players insist there are no simmering tensions in NSW State of Origin camp.

Penrith's win over Canberra earlier this year was one of the most heated of 2021, after Stephen Crichton pushed Joseph Tapine into a Panthers try celebration.

It prompted claims of arrogance from Raiders officials, with CEO Don Furner labelling the young Panthers as "mug lairs" and claiming they lacked humility.

The Raiders boss also hit out at five-eighth Jarome Luai, claiming he routinely caused melees as a third-man in and pushing players in the back.

Brian To'o was also caught up in the arrogance claims, despite the winger being one of the favourites of NSW camp with his down-to-earth attitude.

Penrith were also privately happy to point out that the niggle went both ways, with several other incidents highlighted in the game.

Which could in theory make things awkward, given Luai and To'o are two of five Panthers in the Blues' squad and Jack Wighton is the only Raider.

But Luai said he and Wighton hadn't even needed to clear the air on arriving in camp earlier this week.

"I think the perception people get on the field it's like that (we hate each other)," Luai told AAP.

"But away from the field we have connected really well, even from last year (in camp).

"There is no beef there at all. With any team on the field there are no mates out there.

"But once we're off the field it's definitely easy to speak with each other and have a laugh. That's the vibes I get here in camp."

The feud between the sides has been building for two years in NRL clashes, first sparked by a melee in a game at Penrith in 2019.

It has since grown with the Raiders also upset about Panthers fans conducting a Viking Clap late in their 30-10 win in April.

But the dramas proved no issue in NSW camp last year and as far as Wighton is concerned the escalation on the field has prompted no such issues with his Blues brothers this year either.

"I'm really about what happens on the field stays on the field," Wighton said.

"I'm big on that. And I'm sure they are too.

"It's a game of football and they're all good blokes off the field. We leave it at that and that's about all there is to it."

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