In late 2019, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours at Panthers Stadium, I got the opportunity to check out the facilities and meet with Brad Waugh, the General Manager of Panthers on the Prowl.
Not familiar with Panthers on the Prowl? It's a community based program that strives to make a difference to the wellbeing of young people within the local area. The program has had a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of young people and their families.
Pretty cool right?
A rugby union coach myself, I was there to learn about the Penrith operation and how the Panthers were putting as much emphasis on the off-field performance of their players, as they did, the on-field stuff.
Brad was unbelievably welcoming and giving of his time, he then introduced me to Matt Cameron, who for those not familiar, is the General Manager of Rugby League for the Panthers.
Without giving away any of their secrets, the conversation with Matt revolved heavily around the ambition of the Panthers organisation to develop good people, not just good footy players.
You can see the alignment between the initiatives of the Panthers on the Prowl program, with the objectives of the Senior Football Club. It's about developing young people.
The Panthers seemingly have created a wonderful environment, an environment conducive to improving their football talent for sure, but more so, an environment in which these footballers can use their platform to benefit the wider community.
As we were sitting down in the lunchroom at the new training facility, we even got half hour with Panthers great, Royce Simmons.
Safe to say, it was a pretty bloody good day!
Why I am telling you all this?
Well it's just simply no surprise that the Panthers have done what they've done in 2020.
Yes, they have some wonderful facilities and okay, I admit, it does help that Nathan Cleary is an absolute superstar, but this success has been in the works for quite some time.
In a year when we've all been challenged, all been affected by the global pandemic, the Panthers have gone from strength-to-strength.
They've lost just 1 game!
I was there only a couple of hours and already it felt like home, put simply, the foundations for Penrith's success this year were well and truly set. I'm sure Gus Gould is entitled to some of that credit as well.
The Panthers are too big and too strong for the Bunnies, they'll be winning this weekend and you'd be a brave man to bet against them in a Grand Final the following week.
Well done Penrith, there's a couple of clubs that could learn a few things from what you're doing.