The Penrith Panthers are officially the envy of every sporting team in Australia following the opening of the $22 million Panthers Rugby League Academy.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in town for the opening this morning and toured the spectacular facility alongside Panthers Chairman David O’Neill, Panthers Executive General Manager of Rugby League Phil Gould as well as a number of other dignitaries.
Fully funded by the Panthers Group, the Academy is a $22 million state-of-the-art facility located behind Panthers Leagues Club. It is now the full-time training and development base for Penrith’s senior and junior squads, along with housing Panthers’ rugby league administration.
The Academy consists of two full-size all-weather training fields, two gymnasiums, hot and cold plunge pools, a 61 seat team auditorium, medical rooms and a number of recreational areas for players and staff.
“We believe the Panthers Rugby League Academy is now the best of its kind for any sporting organisation in this country,” Mr Gould said.
The facility also caters for the welfare and education of all players, on all levels.
The Academy building spans approximately 3400 square metres and the overall site approximately 40,000 square metres.
Construction commenced in June last year and was completed three months ahead of schedule.
“The Panthers Rugby League Academy is indicative of our steadfast commitment to Penrith and to the game of rugby league, now and in the future,” Panthers Chairman, David O’Neill said.
“It will become a source of inspiration for young rugby league players right across the Penrith district and regional areas. More kids than ever before will grow up dreaming of pulling on a Panthers jersey.”
Players got their first look around the Academy on Monday before completing their first field session at the new facility on Wednesday afternoon.
Panthers captain Matt Moylan couldn’t contain his excitement.
“A facility like this will give everyone an extra spring in their step when training and playing games,” he said.
“Knowing you’ve got the best facilities around will help us as players going forward. It’s a big incentive.”
Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull, who was a surprise guest at the official opening, was delighted to be in attendance.
“This Academy will play a vital role in inspiring and developing the next generation of rugby league stars from across the region,” he said.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.