Panthers can emulate Eels of 1980s: Sattler

Club legend Scott Sattler says he's backing Penrith to overcome the loss of Viliame Kikau and Api Koroisau and win three NRL titles in a row.

VILIAME KIKAU. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Former Penrith premiership hero Scott Sattler says departed pair Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau will be missed but insists the Panthers can be the first NRL team in 40 years to win three premierships in a row.

Penrith have lost second-rower Kikau to Canterbury and hooker Koroisau to Wests Tigers from last year's NRL premiership winning team. Both were also integral members of the side that won the title in 2021.

The Panthers will aim to be the first team since Parramatta from 1981-83 to complete a three-peat.

Koroisau's exit opens the door for tough rake Mitch Kenny to move into the starting role full-time while Scott Sorensen and Luke Garner are options to replace the rampaging Kikau.

"Kikau is a huge loss and not just because of what he does with the ball with his physical presence and athletic ability," Sattler, who won the 2003 title with the Panthers, told AAP.

"Most of all in the big games he comes up with decisive big plays defensively through a great kick-chase or plucking the ball out of the air from a cross-field kick ... but the key figure and link they have still got there is Nathan Cleary.

"Nathan is the one player every defensive team has got their eyes on and when that is the case it frees up everyone else.

"Having the luxury of Nathan there makes it easier for guys like Scott Sorensen and Luke Garner, who are in line to replace Kikau, to just do their thing."

Kenny does not have the guile of Koroisau but had a tackle efficiency of 93% in 2022 and started in the finals series and grand final.

"As a hooker you need to be crafty and give good service but most importantly you have to be very good defensively, and Mitch Kenny has that box ticked," Sattler said.

"Mitch admittedly doesn't ask the questions Api does but if you come through the middle you are going to get a fright."

Sorensen also played off the bench in both grand final wins and is a testament to the kind of players Penrith have at their disposal to replace superstars when they leave.

"Penrith can win three in a row because they still have a core playing group that has been together for a long time," Sattler said.

"They can do it because they have a coaching team that knows their players, more importantly off the field than on it.

"And they can because they have a depth and a production line of talent like no other club, and the resources to assist those young players get even better.

"To win two in a row ... only the really good teams do that. To win three would make Penrith great."

Sattler said keeping Cleary and lock Isaah Yeo healthy would be critical to achieving that goal and tipped Sydney Roosters and North Queensland to be Penrith's biggest threat.