When a player with significant NRL experience finds themselves plying their trade in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, it’s often expected that they’ll struggle to maintain a consistent standard of performance. In 2017, that has not been the case for Mitch Rein.
The Panthers hooker, who was touted as a big signing from the Dragons in the pre-season, has since been stuck behind veteran Peter Wallace – a man whose early-season form came close to landing him an Origin return. In all of his 13 Intrust Super Premiership NSW matches, however, Rein has given it his all and today deservedly landed the hooking role in the 2017 Team of the Year.
“It has been a pretty tough year but I’ve been playing with a bunch of great guys – a lot of young guys that are really skilful,” Rein tells NSWRL.com.au. “If I wasn’t playing in a strong side we wouldn’t be getting those accolades, so it’s just been great to play in a good side week in, week out.
“Obviously I want to play in the top league but it’s just not to be; I got a few games in but not as many as I would like,” Rein adds. “It would be awesome to go all the way to the (NSWRL) Grand Final Day, so that’s what we’re working for.”
Having stumbled to a first-week finals exit in 2016, the Panthers have since transformed into an attacking powerhouse to finish the regular season in third place. Halfback Darren Nicholls, who has been equally vital to the side, says Rein deserves a lot of credit for the success already enjoyed at the foot of the mountains.
“’Reiny’’s been outstanding,” Nicholls says. “Just a quality hooker, he just brings speed, vision and he’ll make 40 tackles a game without a worry.
“Every time he’s played with us he’s been in the top three players in the team – he’s an asset to our side.”
As they did in 2016, the Panthers will meet the Warriors in Week 1 of the finals, to be live streamed on NSWRL.com.au at UOW Jubilee Oval. Rein knows the quality of opposition his men will need to overcome – and the improvement they’ll need to display – if they are to book a preliminary finals berth.
“They’re a tough side so it’s going to be a big test,” Rein says. “We’ve got a lot of work to do if we want to come up with a win against the Warriors. They’ll come over (to Kogarah), they’ve got a big side and they’re a skilful side so it’s going to be a big challenge.”
At the ground where he spent so many of his 132 games for the Dragons, Rein will line up in a different jersey and competition as the Panthers continue their push for Intrust Super Premiership NSW glory. They take on the Warriors from 4pm AEST on Sunday.