PENRITH coach Garth Brennan will be chasing another career milestone with a win in Sunday’s NRL State Championship against Papua New Guinea Hunters.
Brennan, the former Knights under-20s mentor, steered the Panthers to a 20-12 triumph over minor premiers Wyong Roos in the NSW Cup grand final at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
Penrith subsequently qualified for the annual interstate challenge against the Queensland Cup champions, a mantle PNG secured with a 12-10 win against Sunshine Coast.
Brennan said he had learned from three years ago, when Penrith lost 32-28 to Northern Pride in the inaugural showdown between the rival states.
“It’s fantastic for the game PNG are there. But they don’t have to win it,” Brennan said.
“Three years ago in 2014 I probably didn't give it the respect it deserved. We partied too hard after the NSW Cup grand final, it was the first year it was in.
“I won't make that mistake this year.”
Sunday’s win against the Roos continued Brennan’s remarkable strike rate since he left the Knights at the end of 2011.
He has now won a National Youth Competition grand final (in 2013) and two reserve-grade premierships with Penrith.
In 2012, he was named NYC coach of the year.
Brennan is credited with developing the wealth of talent at the foot of the Blue Mountains, and is considered a candidate for the vacant positions at Gold Coast and Warrington Wolves.
"Six years ago the club was nowhere near the position it is now, but with Gus [Phil Gould], Ivan [Cleary] and Hook [Anthony Griffin] they’ve developed a really good culture in the club,” Brennan said, deflecting attention from himself.
“You've got to develop your own.
“You can't afford to buy them.”
Brennan denied reports after the match he had organised to meet with Gold Coast officials this week.
He is considered a leading contender for the Titans job, along with former NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley, Queensland mentor Kevin Walters, and brothers Shane and Ben Walker, who oversee the Ipswich Jets.