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Penrith skipper Nathan Wright played his 200th game for the Rams on Saturday. Fittingly, his milestone was rewarded with a resounding win, with Nathan kicking the final goal of the day, just as icing on the cake. It is the beginning of a memorable time for Nathan, with his 32nd birthday coming up this month and fatherhood beckoning in July.
His love for the game is a family affair. His father Jim had a long playing career in Sydney football. Jim started as a junior at Newtown, progressing to Under 19s and experiencing a taste of seniors there. He then played at Southern Districts, Bankstown (winning a Best and Fairest) and finished up at the fledgling Mount Druitt senior club in the early 80s. Jim’s father and uncle played for Sydney Naval in the war years also.
Nathan commenced playing with the Penrith Junior club in the 90s, starting out with the Under 11s and playing over 100 games through to the Under 16s. In 2002 he came to the Rams Under 18s – at a good time as it turned out, as the U18s side was coming off a 2001 premiership. They repeated this success in 2002, making Nathan’s first season with the Rams one to remember.
He played another season in the joint Penrith-NW Jets Under 18s side in 2003 before graduating to senior football in 2004, playing either in the ruck or as a key backman – “coaches have flirted with me down forward but it hasn’t really worked”. In his second full-time year in seniors the Rams, after several unsuccessful seasons, made the finals in 2005. The following year, Nato finished runner-up in the Senior Grade Best and Fairest award.
In 2007 Nathan decided to test himself at a higher level, moving to the Pennant Hills club. His 4 years there were interrupted by work and injuries, but he did manage to make a Grand Final, which unfortunately the Demons lost.
He returned to Penrith in 2011 and again celebrated immediate success with Senior Grade’s Division 2 Grand Final win over Balmain. He was appointed club captain in 2013 and has held that role ever since (a record captaincy tenure for the club).
He hopes to keep playing for as long as he can, with 200 Senior Grade games his next goal. “I just love being round my mates at the club, that’s the thing that keeps you coming back”.
“Manly at Dukes Oval in 2005 - they needed a win to secure top spot and we needed a win to make finals, we beat them in a massive upset”
“Parramatta at Gipps Road in Div 1 in 2014, we were down by 40 at quarter time and came back to win”
“The 2011 Grand Final..... obviously, haha”
“There are many others, probably not many appropriate ones, but every incident seems to have involved Samuel Lockhart…..”
“Jay Edwards and Dale Chivas, I played most of my footy with those two since juniors, absolute amazing players but even better mates – but for argument’s sake the most talented player would be either Jake Pianta or Ben Mayer"
Hardest team to play?
*Probably Manly, a team I loved to beat but was always a hard contest"
Congratulations Nathan from everyone at the Rams!!
200 games (177 Senior Grade, 6 Reserve Grade, 17 Under 18s)
72 goals (55 Senior Grade, 4 Reserve Grade, 13 Under 18s)
Senior Grade Premiership Player 2011
Senior Grade Captain 2013 - date
Senior Grade Most Consistent (Travis Hopper Memorial) 2005
Senior Grade Best & Fairest Runner-Up 2006
Senior Grade Coach’s Award (Keith Claxton Award) 2012, 2015, 2016