Young fans swamp Panthers stars in Orange

THE Penrith Panthers were in Orange yesterday, helping to give something back to the grass roots of the game.

Five Panthers’ National Rugby League squad players, Michael Gordon, Chris Armit, Tim Grant, Junior Tia Kilifi and Tony Satini, made the trip west to help Country Rugby League officers with a coaches’ update.

But not everything went to plan.

The coaches update soon turned into a big kids playground, with hundreds of kids from the Bloomfield Tigers and Orange CYMS junior clubs taking the opportunity to rub shoulders with their favourite NRL stars.

And the mountain men loved it.

Panthers star Michael Gordon said the visit was a good chance to give something back to a region which has given plenty to the sport.

“You pretty much look at the majority of players who aren’t from the city and they’re from towns like this, in this sort of area. Any chance you get to come out and give a little bit back is great,” Gordon said.

“We’re starting to do a lot more [community stuff]. It’s mainly just in the local Penrith area but when you get the chance to come out to a place like this it’s always exciting.”

Several NRL club players are going bush this week and CRL development manager for the Western Region Kyle Myers said the Panthers coming to Orange, Cowra, Blayney and Canowindra play an important role in the game’s development out west.

“Basically they’re just getting involved in some of the clinics we’ve been doing,” Myers said.

“It’s just about giving something back to the grass roots of the game. With the Western Rams side last year going on and winning the Country Championships, there was about eight or nine of them who were picked up by clubs and four of them are with Penrith.

“[They include]Toby Evans from Parkes, Cody Robins from Orange and two boys from Bathurst, Brady Cheshire and Dougie Hewitt.”

Gordon, a Country representative, said he enjoyed the chance to get out in the community, especially in rural areas.

“It was good. I went to about three primary schools and all of the kids were excited. I remember what I was like at that age and I was exactly the same,” he said.

The Panthers will travel through Blayney and Canowindra today before running another coaching update in Cowra.


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