Brent Kite says Penrith have a point to prove against the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.
Critics argue the ladder-leading Penrith Panthers are yet to prove themselves against a true NRL heavyweight.
And the mountain men’s front row leader Brent Kite agrees.
The Panthers have risen to every challenge put to them in a dream 2014 season so far, but Kite admits this Saturday’s clash against defending premiers the Sydney Roosters will be a yardstick for whether they are themselves genuine contenders.
It’s not Penrith’s fault that they’ve been perceived to have had a favourable draw to date.
They can only work with the cards they’re dealt, and the Panthers’ consistency against all comers has been a highlight.
Kite says Penrith aren’t worried about the outside perception, but do want to prove to themselves they can rise to finals’ level football.
“Definitely. These games against the top sides are a little more special,” Kite told AAP.
“They’re all worth two points but they do (mean more) for us. It’s going to be an indication of how we’re travelling.
“We’ve had a few critics saying we haven’t played top teams many times.
“The guys more than anything want to gauge themselves against some of the top quality sides over the next few weeks and get an idea of where we’re at.
“We’re still a young team and we want to know how much we need to improve going into the back end of the season.
“I’m sure the Roosters will give us a good gauge.”
The Panthers are walking wounded this week, with Tyrone Peachey (pec) facing the rest of the season on the sidelines and Josh Mansour (ankle) set to miss four weeks.
That’s with captain Peter Wallace already out for a month with a knee problem.
However, Penrith aren’t going to make excuses and know they’re going to have to come with their A-game against a fired-up Roosters team who have been in camp for a week following their embarrassing capitulation against Cronulla two weeks ago.
Panthers playmaker Jamie Soward says the Roosters, who have dropped out of the top four, will be focused on the task at hand.
“They’ll be prepped and ready to go. Going into camp wasn’t a surprise at all,” said Soward.
“They realise they’re in the pack at the moment with a lot of teams and they’re going to have to come out and show why they’re the premiers.”