As the Panthers celebrated their grand final win and a historic three-peat in the NRL premiership, a special memento took center stage in the dressing room.
A WWE-style championship belt covered in gold plaques with the word “undisputed” in the middle was the perfect way for the Panthers to showcase their success.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Celebrations across Penrith following the Panthers’ grand final win.
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The “uncontroversial” theme was the driving force behind the Panthers’ season, with Penrith coach Ivan Cleary introducing the belt during the finals series to motivate his all-conquering team.
Gold plaques from Finals victories against the Warriors and Storm were already attached to his belt, and Cleary gave his son Nathan the final piece, engraved with the word “undisputed.”
The Panthers co-captain then placed the gold plaque front and center on the belt, completing his dynasty as one of the greatest teams in rugby league history.
“First of all I want to thank everyone in this room and everyone who has ever supported us,” Ivan Cleary said after the grand final win.
“It was a long journey. I know this year’s team was an incredible team, that’s one thing, but that’s also part of three in a row.
“There are people here who have done so much for this team and this club – players, coaches, staff, they are all part of this group of three.
“This group, man, I love you guys so much. That was incredible tonight. We played in such a way that we would have beaten most other teams. But the Broncos haven’t disappeared.
“When we were on the ground 24/7 and in all sorts of situations, I thought we would get faster. We need to get our belt ready.”
Nathan Cleary, who put in a brilliant performance against the Broncos to win the Clive Churchill Medal, said the belt inspired the Panthers on their way to the grand final victory.
“We have a theme every year and this year it’s the ‘Undisputed’ theme,” Cleary explained.
“I think Dad might have made it up. From the outside, people might think it’s a bit lame, but for us it gives us meaning.
“(He doesn’t follow wrestling) so I don’t know how he came up with that. I think he just looked at different athletes and teams from all different sports…just champions, teams that keep winning.
“It was the only belt during the entire finals series and every game we won we added another plaque.”
Panthers forward Liam Martin agreed.
“It (the belt) was just a bit of fun at the finals,” Martin said.
“After every game we won, we just put a little emblem on the belt with the score and stuff like that. It was pretty cool.”
Star five-eighth Jarome Luai enjoyed the club’s initiative.
“We have a theme every year, so it was good,” Luai said.
“The belt is something of a highlight that the coaches came up with.
“Every finals game had a separate emblem that you could put on your belt, which was pretty cool.”
The Undisputed belt was proudly displayed during the Panthers’ celebration as players posed for photos with the prized possession that night and at a fan event the next day.
After accepting the NRL Premiership trophy during the presentation ceremony, Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo ended his speech with the one word that led his side to premiership success: “Undisputed.”