Tough Penrith make their own luck in 2021

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A text message from Phil Gould on Sunday morning helped shape Jarome Luai's NRL premiership-winning mindset, giving the Penrith star an edge he didn't have last year.

The Panthers spent the past 12 months learning from mistakes made in the 2020 grand final but it took just a few words from ex-Penrith supremo Gould to crystallise the lesson.

It was the reminder Luai needed before taking the field at Suncorp Stadium opposite South Sydney.

"Gus sent me a message before the game (on Sunday), he just sort of said good luck, but you don't really have good luck in the game of rugby league, you make your own luck," Luai said after the Panthers' 14-12 win.

"I sort of took that into account today. It was a good message from Gus."

In 2020 Penrith were full of fresh-faced enthusiasm with everything going right until it didn't in the decider, when they didn't make their own luck against a more experienced Melbourne.

This year, there were hurdles, and they had to work harder.

Mass injuries, suspensions, as well as a loss in week one of the finals gave them obstacles to clear.

But the hardships prepared them for battle and shaped the gutsy performance they delivered against Souths to get their hands on the trophy on Sunday night.

"I wouldn't change a thing to be honest," Luai said, who played his first State of Origin campaign this season but battled a drop in club form when Nathan Cleary was out injured.

"The highs and lows throughout the year, you've sort of got to learn to embrace that and I think I've grown a lot more than probably if it was a smooth sailing season for me.

"With Nath out I tried to play a bit like him but I know my boys love me for who I am and what I bring to the team and that's definitely something that I'll take into consideration in years to come.

"I feel like I've definitely grown in terms of off the field stuff as well. It's been a good year."

The Panthers' tougher mentality was typified on Sunday night with up to five players taking the place in the 17 despite injuries that should have ruled them out.

"We learned a lot through the low times and the tough games we did have," Luai said.

"It showed we can do it tough and we're a tough side.

"We play for each other, we're brothers out there and love each other."

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