Time to realise the dream

TAKE two. Month one. Action. Penrith Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary believes his squad is in a more promising position than 12 months ago when he arrived at Panthers HQ and ‘‘absolutely inherited’’ the group of players waiting to meet him.

While pre-production on the Panthers’ blockbuster season ahead began just four weeks ago, Cleary said it wasn’t too early to think about winning the 2013 premiership trophy.

‘‘I dream about premierships all the time,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not hard to work out where you want to be at the end of the year when you wake up in the morning but the reality is, we’re going to decide what ‘successful’ is for ourselves and that’ll be just based on each week.

‘‘I know that if we get those little areas that we value right, the results will take care of themselves.’’

Over the next three months, the Panthers will continue to bring Cleary's pre-season script to life and Cleary said his current cast of stars were closer aligned in talent than in the lead-up to his debut season as Panthers head coach.

"The group itself is moving along better and everyone is at a closer level to each other," Cleary said.

"Last year the top guy to the bottom, there was quite a big gulf, which makes things a bit challenging in pre-season."

With "a lot of guys coming off contract" in 2013, Cleary said "another interesting year" lay ahead.

When the Panthers do hit the big screen, Cleary was adamant fans would see more satisfying storylines than the many defeats they endured this year.

"We will have a stronger team," Cleary said.

"We'll be more familiar with what we value and what we think works, we'll be more settled and we'll be much closer to producing each week a performance that fans can be proud of.

"And that's really what we want.

"We want the fans to be able to be proud of their team and I'm really confident that they will be next year."

While Panthers captain Kevin Kingston said his side's first month of rehearsals for their 2013 campaign had been outstanding, the tenacious hooker said it too early to predict a fairytale ending.

"I don't want to get too carried away just yet because it's preseason but I'm very excited," Kingston said.

"I'm quietly confident and hopefully we can fly under the radar and just keep improving and however long it takes us to get to where we want to go. Hopefully, we can stay there for 10 years."

Justin Brady

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