Clive Churchill Medallist Dylan Edwards has revealed he knew the Panthers would win the grand final in the opening sets of the game.
Penrith put together one of the most clinical opening 40 minutes in grand final history to lead the Eels 18-0, before running out 28-12 victors.
Parramatta were the only team to beat the Panthers twice in the regular season, but Edwards revealed he knew his side wanted it more just moments after the opening whistle.
“Early on, the first couple of sets you could just feel that we were just more up for it,” Edwards said to foxsports.com.au.
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Edwards capped off a stellar season with a man-of-the-match performance in decider after running for 227 metres, making eight tackle busts and setting up two tries.
The 26-year-old has started at fullback in the past three grand finals and is now part of just the second team in NRL history to win back-to-back titles.
“I’m one of the lucky ones, I mean I love my job, I love being able to go out to work everyday with these guys… I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Edwards said.
“It’s been a pretty special year for the club, everyone’s rolling in the same direction. It’s pretty special at the moment.”
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Edwards narrowly missed selection in Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos squad on Monday and was named as one of three standby players.
Plenty of pundits were calling for the fullback be on the plane to England, but Edwards said he wasn’t losing any sleep over it.
“If I miss out then that’s all right, I’ve got a few weekends planned and it’ll be nice,” he said.
“That wasn’t my goal, it was my goal first and foremost to just play well for this club and these boys, I don’t really mind.”
Eels fullback Clint Gutherson had nothing but praise for his opposite number after the game.
“He was outstanding, I thought that off the back of what Nathan (Cleary) was doing he was great, he was everywhere,” Gutherson told foxsports.coma.au.
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“He’s been like that for the last three or four years, he’s probably only just getting the recognition he deserves now and look you want to be playing the best and he’s one of them and he’s been great the last few years.”
Superstar halfback Nathan Cleary told foxsports.com.au that Edwards was stiff to miss out an award at the Dally Ms on the back of his “unbelievable” season.
“The year he had he sort of deserved something in the Dally M’s, it’s obviously hard with such great fullbacks and obviously Nicho had a great year,” Cleary said.
“But I’m just so pumped that he could top it off in the Clive Churchill.
Jarome Luai added: “He’s stuck to what he knows and stuck true so he’s the flag bearer of this culture at Penrith, he’s reaping the rewards now.”
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Coach Ivan Cleary, who broke down in tears after his side were able to seal their second premiership, wasn’t surprised to see Edwards take home the Clive Churchill Medal.
“His finals series has been elite, I couldn’t think of a more deserving Clive Churchill Medallist,” Cleary said.
Winger Charlie Staines added: “He’s the man, he works hard, he goes all game, he doesn’t stop and yeah that’s one of the players you want to play with,”
“He’s shown it every week so I expected nothing less from Dyl, trains hard and always the fittest in the team and yeah works his arse off.”
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