Completing the Grand Final trifecta is the number one goal for rising Penrith Panthers trio Bryce Cartwright, Isaah Yeo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who aim to win an NRL premiership with the Penrith Panthers.
The VB NSW Cup and Under 20’s premiership victories are etched in the trio’s credentials, and they say their experience of the VB NSW Cup set them up for long and successful NRL careers.
“I’ve been very lucky to be involved in both of those [Grand Finals],’ Yeo told nswrl.com.au.
“To do it with some of my better mates Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Bryce Cartwright, who I was involved with in both competitions and being able to debut and play with them in first grade as well, it’s been very exciting for myself personally.”
Current Panthers NRL assistant coach Garth Brennan has been with them all the way, coaching the Under 20’s to premiership victory in 2013 before emulating his success with the VB NSW Cup side the very next year.
“It’s very good to come down to Penrith in my first year and have [Brennan] as my coach, he’s outstanding he’s really helped my development over the years,” Yeo said.
The trio and the coach – and mentor they affectionately call “Brenno” – have become extremely close while proving themselves through the grades, and the obvious common goal is to go into battle each week and eventually win the NRL Premiership together.
“The number one goal in the NRL is to win a comp here out in Penrith, that will always be the number one goal for me,” Cartwright said.
“I got my first taste of NSW cup when I was 18 and I think that put me in good stead to play in the NRL. Anyone coming through that system, it’s going to help them out a lot playing in the NRL,” Cartwright said.
“I was playing against men for a while and played a lot of games in there and I think that matured me a lot. Garth [Brennan] was there alongside me and I got to play with a lot of NRL boys; I think that helped me out a lot.”
Anthony Griffin replacing Ivan Cleary as head coach of the Panthers has acted as a clean slate for the Panthers players, who aim to put their roller-coaster 2015 season behind them and focus on their common goal.
“We’re just working hard to get fit, that’s all we can do right now,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I’m just trying to get fit with the interchanges dropping down, so I need to work on that and try and play a lot more minutes for the team.”
The Panthers possess an undeniable amount of raw young talent mixed with some old head’s for experience, and they certainly under-achieved in an injury ravaged 2015 season.
The players remain optimistic about the season ahead, and are excited to be in each other’s company on and off the field once again.
“It’s been a bit different obviously with the new coach and new players coming in but it’s been very exciting, we’ve done a fair bit of running to get us back in the shape, to try and work off the off-season,” Yeo said.
“I’m really looking forward to the season, I think all the boys have been putting in the hard work.
“I know it’s early days, but I’m very excited about it all.”