Refreshed Merrin shakes off nerves
Without the convenience of Wollongong's City Beach at his disposal after a tough training session, a hot, sweaty and happy Panthers back-rower Trent Merrin is feeling refreshed after finally completing his move from the Dragons.
Having announced back in March he was Penrith-bound, Merrin's second day of training on Tuesday ended a nine-month wait to kick start his three-year contract at the club.
Admitting his nerves upon starting at the Panthers as well as asking his now-fiancée current world number three surfer Sally Fitzgibbons for her hand in marriage, Merrin is ready to move forward.
"It's refreshing. Putting the new kit on it's a new chapter, new challenges and hopefully a great future. It's a good feeling, and when I came to training all the boys accepted me as soon as I got here so it goes to show what sort of men we do have here," Merrin said.
"It's been an exciting off-season trying to get everything sorted on my behalf in Penrith, then had a great time over in Vanautu and proposed. It's good to get the nerves out of the way.
"It's now back to business. This is my home now and I have to make the most of it."
While Penrith is at least an hour away from any beach, Merrin said Fitzgibbons had given him her blessing to share his time between western Sydney and Wollongong when time permits.
"She's supported me through the whole process. It was probably the biggest decision of my life, coming to Penrith. She gave me full support and she's with me all the way," Merrin said.
"We had some long chats about it but she wanted what was best for me and she could tell by the look of me once it was announced how relieved I was. She's there through thick and thin now."
Merrin was relatively unfazed too by the change in coaches, with Ivan Cleary being sacked and consequently replaced by Anthony Griffin three weeks ago.
"I came here to for my own personal job and that's to play the best footy I possibly can and take my game to a new level. Nothing against both coaches but that was a personal decision and something I wanted to do," he said.
"No matter who was appointed as coach I was definitely going to give it the best crack I could. Anthony's doing a great job though. He's setting the tone, [this is my first week] and it's been very tough. The boys are handling it great and have accepted him."