Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary has revealed his side focused on matching the Warriors enthusiasm before spoiling the home side's planned farewell for Manu Vatuvei with a come-from-behind 34-22 NRL win at Mt Smart Stadium last Friday.
The 19-year-old son of former Warriors player and coach Ivan Cleary understood from his time living in Auckland as a youngster, just how much Vatuvei means to the Warriors, and said the Panthers had discussed the importance of matching the home side's energy and aggression.
A stunning individual performance from Cleary ensured the visitors spoiled 'The Beast's' party, with Cleary scoring a hattrick of tries and kicking five goals as the Panthers came back from 18-22 down inside the last quarter to claim an impressive victory.
"I was actually pretty nervous before the game especially with it being such a big game with Manu Vatuvei for the Warriors," Cleary told Radio Sport.
"We knew, especially myself, how much Manu meant to the club.
"We knew the Warriors would really turn up and we needed to combat that and not let their energy and enthusiasm affect our game.
"The boys played really well and it was a great game to win."
The result was crucial to keeping the Panthers in ninth spot on the NRL ladder and just two points outside the top eight with seven games remaining in the regular season.
Cleary rated his performance the best of his 32 first-grade games to date and said the onus was on him to lead his side's attack after Penrith captain and five-eighth Matt Moylan was ruled out with a hamstring strain.
Cleary's stunning form has seen him mentioned as a potential State of Origin bolter for New South Wales next year, as the Blues look for answers following their 11th series loss to Queensland in 12 years.
But Cleary insists he is keeping his feet on the ground and says he still has plenty to improve on before he can think about playing Origin football.
"I don't think I'm entirely ready to play for New South Wales yet but hopefully in a few years down the track I can do that."