- Penrith stars wore Polynesian candy necklaces
- Leis are presented for the celebration
- Penrith beat Brisbane 26-14 in grand final
Penrith established themselves as one of the greatest rugby league teams of all time, after Nathan Cleary produced the greatest comeback in grand final history to beat Brisbane 26-14 and win a third consecutive title.
Trailing 24-8 with 18 minutes remaining at Accor Stadium on Sunday, Cleary scored two tries and scored one of his own in the final minutes to give the Panthers the lead and earn a second Clive Churchill medal.
Players and fans celebrated long after the game ended, and Panthers stars could be seen wearing colorful Polynesian candy necklaces around their necks.
Spencer Leniu was asked after the match about the importance of the decorations.
“A bit of our Samoan Polynesian culture,” he told Channel Nine.
Penrith stars could be seen with Polynesian candy necklaces around their necks after victory
Spencer Leniu explained that the decoration is handed out during the celebration
“It’s just kind of a celebration. Obviously we just won the grand final, so they do these things…
“I think it’s good for us now because it’s off-season and we can munch on some snacks!”
Leis – or garlands – have been part of Polynesian culture for as long as anyone can remember.
In Samoa, the lei is called “asoa” or “ula”, in Tahiti it is “hei”, in the Cook Islands it is “ei”, in Fiji “salusalu”, in Hawaii “lei”, in the Tonga is “kahoa”.
Different necklaces are made for all kinds of special occasions.
The necklaces are given at weddings, birthdays and graduations. They are also offered to others as a sign of affection, friendship or appreciation.
Candy necklaces are particularly popular in Tonga and Samoa and are intricately woven with ribbons, cellophane and candy.
Penrith are the eighth team in history to win three consecutive premierships, and the first since Parramatta in 1983.
Leniu joked that they can now munch on snacks because the season is over
The Panthers stake their claim as one of the greatest rugby league teams of all time.
But their victory is the first in the NRL era or under a salary cap.
“There was this great Parramatta team, but it wasn’t the NRL era either,” coach Ivan Cleary said.
“But things were different, it was pretty much the Sydney competition back then. And I say that without trying to take anything away from what they did.
“We’re not here to try to explain where we fit in history. I think we’ll be able to reflect on it over the next few days, it’s a pretty remarkable achievement.
“It’s totally surreal. I do not know how to explain it.