won't come to the party

The Penrith Panthers won?t be wearing a traditional strip when they take on St George-Illawarra at WIN Stadium later this month.

The Dragons are planning to wear a replica 1982 Illawarrra Steelers jersey to celebrate their first ever premiership match in the NSWRL, which was against the Panthers.

It?s understood the Dragons put in a request to Panthers management about the possibility of the defending premiers wearing a traditional strip for the April 18 match, but the request was declined.

The Dragons will, however, be honouring the 1982 Penrith team that took on the Steelers at the Woolongong Showgrounds, as well as their own side.

Dragons CEO Peter Doust says it remains vitally important to honour the Illawarra side of the joint venture club, which formed in 2000 as the NRL planned a reduced competition.

"The Dragons believe it is appropriate to commemorate the part the Steelers have and do play in our game and our Club," Doust said.

"The Illawarra region has always been a great rugby league area and the Steelers Club has made a significant contribution to the growth and the development of rugby league over many years. We want to recognise that heritage."

Former Steelers CEO and current Dragons Director Bob Millward has been instrumental in planning a host of special activities around the match including assembling the members of the Steelers and Panthers teams who played each other in the historic match 22 years ago.

"The day of that first game was a culmination of 25 years of attempts by Illawarra to gain entry into rugby league's major competition," Millward said.

"It also signified the commencement of rugby league expansion in Australia.?

The Sunday afternoon match will be the first time the Panthers and Dragons have met since one of the 2003 season?s most controversial matches last year, which the Dragons won at WIN Stadium.

Several controversial video referee decisions marred the match, the Dragons one of few clubs who toppled the Panthers in 2003.