Penrith’s country contingent going the distance
Author : Jessica Miles Panthers Junior Reporter
The Panthers’ junior development system is home to dozens of rising stars, including a particularly dedicated collection of country-based players, who are willing to do what it takes to pursue their NRL ambitions.
Training four afternoons a week, the Harold Matthews and SG Ball squad members carefully balance their time between football commitments, school and part-time employment.
But for the club’s country contingent, it’s more complicated than that.
Born and bred in Western NSW, this group of young Panthers spend more than ten hours travelling to and from Penrith for training each week as they strive for a career in professional Rugby League.
To ensure they are keeping pace with their Panthers teammates, they also complete their own solo training sessions back in their home towns.
It can often get lonely, but commitment and determination drives their success.
With Isaah Yeo, Dylan Edwards, Charlie Staines and Liam Martin paving the way for country kids, the idea of making an NRL debut for Panthers seems within reach.
Harold Matthews Cup
Led by head coach Kyle Churchill, the 41-strong squad of players aged 15 to 17 are in the midst of their preparation for the 2022 season.
Focusing on fitness, ball skills and technique, the players are acquiring new skills whilst also ensuring they have the Rugby League basics covered.
But for country-based Angus Thompson and Braith Boyd, success in the program requires a higher level of personal initiative and dedication.
Making the long trek to Penrith from Western NSW on a Friday, the teens join the rest of the Harold Matthews squad for only two sessions a week.
Angus Thompson and Braith Boyd. ©Penrith Panthers
Orange to Penrith: Angus’ journey
At just 15 years old, Angus Thompson has recognised that in order to achieve his goals, he needs to go above and beyond other athletes his age.
The second-rower from Orange divides his time between working at Bunnings, attending school and training in his local gym.
His week looks very different compared to the other players in the squad, but he wouldn’t change a thing.
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