Luke Walsh has become the first halfback to win Penrith’s Player of the Year award since Craig Gower in 2005.
Walsh accepted the honour at the club’s annual presentation night on Monday, a reward for an improved personal season.
“I am over the moon – I didn’t expect this at all,” Walsh said.
“The way we have stuck together is unreal.”
Walsh led the side around the park in the number 7 jumper at a time when there was much upheaval both on and off the field for the Panthers.
Walsh’s halves partner Travis Burns took out the John Farragher Award for Courage.
“I’d just like to thank John – he is an inspiration to the Penrith people and the Penrith community,” Burns said.
“It’s been a tough year but we can walk off with our heads held high – we never stopped trying.”
Youngster Nafe Seluini won the Rookie of the Year, but the highlight of the night was left to new General Manager, Phil Gould.
Calling himself the “General Bloody Manager” and admitting he didn’t quite know the extent of the role, Gould had the hairs on the collective audience’s neck well and truly at attention.
“Penrith has always been very special to me,” Gould said.
“I understand it’s a huge responsibility and that responsibility has been given to me at a very important time in this club’s history.”
Gould said it was his intention to ensure Penrith became one of the most successful sporting franchises in the country.
The Panthers are now on a break following their loss to St George-Illawarra last week and will return to pre-season training in November.