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20 stars for 2022 | Lindsay Smith

At age 20, Penrith Panther Lindsay Smith is a forward-on-the-rise after receiving his NRL debut jersey in Round 13 of the 2021 season.

Yet that’s only a glimpse of what is still to come in the first grade arena for the student of rugby league nursery, Westfields Sports High.

A highly-touted St Marys junior – producing the likes of Premiership winners Jarome Luai, Brian To’o and Moses Leota – Smith joined Penrith’s famed development pathways as a 14-year-old and has never looked back in achieving his NRL dream.

Along that journey, in 2016, Smith gained selection for the NSW U16s Origin team, where he earned Man of the Match honours in a 12-10 victory over the Maroons at Stadium Australia.

The following year he was named at lock for the Australian Schoolboys, lining up alongside current NRL players Campbell Graham, Zac Lomax, Tannah Boyd, Dylan Brown, Oregon Kaufusi, Teig Wilton, David Fifita and Spencer Leniu. The touring side secured a 2-0 Test series win over the New Zealand U18s.

More recently, Smith has spent the bulk of 2021 plying his trade in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup with a Penrith side, who were competition heavyweights being three wins clear of the rest of the table when the season finished after 15 rounds.

Smith’s involvement was particularly strong, averaging 1.2 tackle busts, 34.4 tackles and 100 running metres from 11 matches played in the middle - front row and lock.

With the 2022 pre-season well underway, Smith’s immediate outlook remains encouraging as the reigning NRL champions experience personnel changes to their forward stocks for next season and beyond.

Next year presents a huge opportunity for Smith to prove himself as a top-17 player in Ivan Cleary’s line-up as they aim to continue their NRL dominance.