Wellington’s Tyrone Peachey will take on more than just Cronulla in Friday night's NRL semi-final.
He’ll also be going head-to-head with most his family and friends.
A product of Cronulla's junior system, Peachey made his NRL debut at the Sharks in 2013 and his name is forever associated with the club through his uncle David.
Most of Peachey's extended family still follow Cronulla – the majority of his 10 allocated tickets at Allianz Stadium on Friday night have been given to Sharks fans.
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But he told AAP having friends and family cheering for the opposition “fires me up a little”.
“I don’t want to lose so I can rub it in their face otherwise they’ll give it to me,” he said.
“It will be tough going back to Cronulla if we lose … but if we win I’ll be going (and visiting) there for no reason.”
The Panthers headed into camp on Thursday ahead of the Friday night clash, with coach Cameron Ciraldo aiming to replicate the preparation of the past two weeks.
Penrith upset the Melbourne Storm 22-16 two weeks ago – depriving them of the minor premiership – before thrashing the New Zealand Warriors 36-4 in Saturday’s elimination final.
That game saw Peachey claim two tries and post four tackle breaks, one line break and one try assist. Dubbo’s Isaah Yeo also recorded one try assist and 29 tackles.
“There’s just so much energy around … the young guys are buzzing around the joint,” Ciraldo said.
“Even the older guys are buzzing around the joint so it’s really exciting and I think they’re all just looking forward to getting there.
“[Cronulla] have got class all over the park … they know what they’re doing, they’ve got a lot of experienced players … we’re going to have to be at our best if we’ve got any chance of beating them.”
Peachey’s future is unknown, after he indicated on Wednesday he’d wait until after this year’s finals before deciding if he wanted to honour his three-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans.
Ciraldo played down the speculation, saying that if doubt was affecting Peachey’s mindset, it didn’t show.
“I’m really confident Peach will be there and ready for a big game tomorrow,” he said.
Peachey played seven games at Cronulla in 2013 before moving to the Panthers the following year.
However he said he didn't see a future at the club when offered a deal at the time, as he was stuck behind the likes of Anthony Tupou, Luke Lewis, Chris Heighington and Wade Graham in the back row.
“I went and had a dinner with Gus Gould and he seemed keen to get me to Penrith,” Peachey said.
“Having Penrith really want me made the decision a lot easier. It’s good to be wanted. I’ve come here and loved every year here.”