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Perfect Panthers Eye Ultimate Glory

The value of respect is at the heart of most professional football clubs in their pursuit for ultimate success at seasons end, and it’s no different at the Penrith Panthers after stellar seasons in the UNE SG Ball and Harold Matthews competitions respectively.

Famous for their strong emphasis on establishing clear pathways for junior grades, the Panthers are on the verge of recording another fairytale season, with their UNE Harold Matthews squad claiming the minor premiership and the SG Ball side remaining undefeated throughout the entire regular season.

Harold Matthews coach Kyle Churchill spoke volumes of the culture that has been firmly embedded in all grades at the club - one that is built on hard work, respect and a genuine love for Rugby League.

“[The motivation] comes from the whole club itself - it’s a really clear pathway for our boys and we have a lot to do with the first-grade squad; they have a big influence on us and I think our boys can see that pathway,” Churchill tells 

“They can see our SG Ball be successful, our Jersey Flegg be successful, [Intrust Super Premiership] be successful and then into the NRL.

“But for me, I’m just instilling the discipline, understanding and respect for the game and that’s been our focus all year.”

In his first year as coach, Churchill has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal with a squad that boasts enormous talent and potential, but says his biggest challenge is ensuring the attitude of his entire squad remains committed to a common cause.

“I think it comes down to the fact that we have great role models in our SG Ball [squad], we have great role models above that and then the people around the club and in our staff,” he said. 

“We employ good people and that keeps the boy's attitude in check and even from the player’s point of view, we pick good people rather than just picking good players.”

The Panthers will be brimming with confidence following their 50-0 onslaught against a valiant Dragons outfit, with the commanding victory laying the perfect platform ahead of a tough finals campaign. 

Along with their SG Ball squad, who posted their ninth consecutive victory on Saturday afternoon, Churchill will be desperate for his side to continue their blistering form, but says it’s imperative they focus on the little things if they are a genuine chance of taking out the premiership.

“It’s just that respect for the game and respect for the ball and you’ll hear our boys saying it all game - respect, respect,” he said.

“I think if they respect the game they’re doing the little things right because they’re understanding the game as a whole rather than just trying to score points.” 

While fullback Donovan Boney has formed a formidable combination with halfback Conor Mason throughout the regular season, Churchill paid credit to his unheralded interchange bench, who has provided significant impact in 2018.

He says their form comes down to the selfless team-first approach that has been instilled in his squad from the first day of pre-season, with every member playing a crucial role in their success in 2018.

“Our strength all year has been our bench and I think that shows how strong our squad is. 

“We’ve had the likes of Zac Lipowicz and Campbell Fisher coming off the bench all year and have been continuing that platform that Jai Wynbergen and Osemen Momoh have been laying.

“We’ve been in tight games at the start and once our bench comes on we’re just rolling through teams and that comes down to the competition in the squad and players coming into the 17.

“It just makes our boys hungry.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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