When Penrith captain Matt Moylan made the switch to five-eighth a fortnight ago, many Panthers fans were excited at the prospect of seeing rising fullback Dylan Edwards back in the NRL again.
Having only played a handful of first grade games since debuting against Cronulla last year, Edwards returned to the NRL against the Bulldogs in Round 13 with an eye on making that number one jersey his own.
Full of potential and seemingly wasted in reserve grade, many rival clubs, including the Wests Tigers, were sniffing an opportunity to steal the young Panther away from the foot of the Mountains.
Speaking with Extra Time, the 21-year-old said he remains focused on playing the rest of the season for Penrith in the top grade.
“I had heard the reports [of other clubs’ interest] but I’m happy here at Panthers and I just take every week as it comes,” Edwards said.
“I just have to keep playing week to week and, if I keep playing well, hopefully I can keep my spot. If not, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Regarded by fellow teammates as one of the fittest players at the club, Edwards trained the house down during the pre-season to impress coaching staff.
After earning just one NRL call up in 2016, Edwards was determined to get back in the mind of coach Anthony Griffin.
“I’ve always tried hard at training and my goal in the off-season was to play more first grade this year, that was my main motivation,” Edwards said.
“I thought I’d try and leave it all out there and force my way into the side.”
Edwards was born in the NSW country town of Albury in 1996 before moving north to Dorrigo at a young age. He was signed by the Panthers in 2012 and spent the 2013 season in Penrith’s SG Ball team.
In 2015, Edwards was a member of Penrith’s premiership-winning Holden Cup side, and was named in the NYC Team of the Year last season.
Despite being clearly good enough to play regular first grade, the former Gloria Jean’s Coffees barista said he wasn’t frustrated with having to wait his turn.
“I was happy to wait. Whatever happened I didn’t really mind, I just had to wait my turn,” Edwards said.
“It wasn’t frustrating at all… I just had to wait for Hook to give me a tap on the shoulder to get back in there.
“I was just trying my best to be ready for the NRL, that was my goal in reserve grade.”
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.