Frank Pritchard is clear to finish his NRL career on the field after being found not guilty at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
The Samoan will play his 248th first grade game this Friday against the Roosters in a do-or-die battle at Allianz Stadium.
His teammates are keen to send him out with his first Premiership after he was 18th man in the Panthers 2003 grand final win.
“It’s good to see him back, we need him,” fellow Samoan international Sam Kasiano said.
“He’s been our best player for the last couple of months.”
Kasiano was concerned he would also be cited by the match review committee with his challenge on Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop.
“I was a little worried then they told me, it wasn’t me, it was Frankie. Apparently he (Pritchard) threw me under the bus last night at the judiciary, saying it was all my fault,” he laughed.
There was a sense of disappointment on Kasiano’s face as he realised just what Pritchards departure would mean.
“We’re like brothers, we a do a lot of stuff; play footy, do dinner, hang out at each other’s houses,” he said.
“I’m going to miss him. I’m sure the boys are going to miss him too. (We) Just want to send him out on a high.”
Bulldog enforcer David Klemmer revealed how Pritchard had helped him settle in with the Family Club.
“When I first came here he really took me under and he was always there for a chat,” Klemmer said.
“He has been around for a long time, he adds that experience, he’s a big man on the edge”.
Despite being at the ripe old age of 31 Pritchard’s form has arguably never been better.
“He’s probably in some of the best form I’ve seen him in at this club,” Aiden Tolman said.
In last week’s elimination final Frank rand for 160 metres with 13 carries.
He made 34 tackles, broke three and offloaded twice.
It’s where he’s been making these hit-ups which has impressed Tolman.
“He’s taking carries out of trouble and making the tough hit-ups,” he said.
“Frank’s played over ten years of first grade, nearly 250 games. That’s a great service to the game, to this club and Penrith as well, he’s deserving of a Grand Final win.”
“He’s obviously a big personality as well and I think footy clubs need that, we’re going to miss hime next year in that regard.”
WORDS: Eddie Webeck