The toughest team in the NRL: Read the inspirational success stories in the ...

The remarkable success of Penrith Panthers NRL team this season has been nothing but incredible.

The minor premiers hope to continue their dream 17-game unbeaten run when they take on Melbourne Storm in the NRL grand final at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.

It will be the club's third premiership if the fairytale script goes to plan, following previous success in 1991 and 2003.

Many of the locally-raised Panthers stars have endured mammoth personal challenges and tragedy off-the-field which have inspired their on-field success this season.

From family heartache and tough upbringings to extreme poverty and family behind bars, many have defied the toughest of odds to overcome adversity.

'They embody the battler spirit the Penrith club prides itself on,' Panthers legend Mark Geyer told Daily Mail Australia.

'Coming from tough backgrounds, they've had to work harder than anyone else to get where they are today, which has made them more resilient. Everything else that comes their way is a bonus.' 

 Geyer was the only player who grew up in the Mount Druitt area when the Panthers won their maiden premiership in 1991.

Six players in the Panthers line-up this Sunday come from the 2770 postcode, which was subject to a controversial SBS documentary called Struggle Street five years ago.

'The five or six players from Mount Druitt are the driving force behind this year's side, which has brought a culture that's made them so successful ' Geyer said.

'They're role models to today's youth from the 2770 postcode that they too can be a success.'

Daily Mail Australia pays tribute to the Panthers stars who have defied the toughest of odds to overcome adversity.

Brian To'o

The young Panthers winger was a day shy of his 10th birthday when his sister Dannielle tragically lost her hard-fought battle with cancer in 2008. 

'I didn't get to say goodbye to her, I miss her so much,' he told Fox Sports in 2019.

'I would do anything just to see her again, it's so hard to describe how much I love my sister. I'd do anything to take her place. I would do anything for her.'

To'o still visits her grave every week.  

'She had the mentality to never give up and always keep smiling. That's something I spoke about amongst the boys and something I want to have myself. When I grow up I want to pass that on to my kids.' he told the Sydney Morning Herald this week.

His parents often struggled to make ends meet.

'There would days when we would be sweet but then there would be days I'd have to sacrifice all my meal prep for training for my parents and siblings,' To'o recalled.

Penrith winger Brian To'o, pictured with his partner is one of several Panthers stars to endure family tragedy

Penrith winger Brian To'o, pictured with his partner is one of several Panthers stars to endure family tragedy

To'o still visits the grave of his sister Dannielle, who died a day before his 10th birthday

To'o still visits the grave of his sister Dannielle, who died a day before his 10th birthday

Jarome Luai  

Martin Luai was jailed for drug trafficking three years ago, leaving his eldest son Jarome to help raise his three siblings on top of becoming the breadwinner and  starting his own family. 

He not only missed the birth of Jarome's first child but also his NRL debut in 2018 during his two-and-a-half-years behind bars in a Brisbane maximum security prison.

He had to listen to his son's milestone game against the Newcastle Knights on the radio in his prison cell.

The young Panthers playmaker learnt a great deal while his father was behind bars.

'You've got to work for everything in life and there's no easy road, which is  something I took out of that,' Luai told Nine News this week.

'It gave me more motivation to make it for my family as well. My dad wasn't around so i had to step up and take that father role in the house. 

His father is proud of how his son stepped up in his absence and will be in crowd cheering him on  at ANZ Stadium this Sunday night.

'To show that maturity as a young man, to step up, I just get emotional thinking about it,' Mr Luai said.

Jarome Luai became his family's breadwinner when his dad Martin was sent to jail. The Panthers star is pictured  with his partner and young son on a Gold Coast holiday in January

Jarome Luai became his family's breadwinner when his dad Martin was sent to jail. The Panthers star is pictured  with his partner and young son on a Gold Coast holiday in January

Martin (right) is proud of his son Jarome (left)

Martin Luai will be cheering from the stands

Martin Luai  (right) was jailed for drug trafficking three years ago, leaving his eldest son Jarome (pictured left with his dad)  to help raise his three siblings

Viliame Kikau  

It's been 10 years since the backrower's older brother Jope was confined to a wheelchair by a spinal infection.

Kikau idolised Jope, who had been a rugby union prodigy until his promising career was abruptly cut short at

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