Whether it be a game of chess or a swim in the pool, Panthers players are settling into their new Sunshine Coast home nicely one week in.
While there were some teething issues early, they are quickly getting used to their tropical surroundings and making the most of their opportunity.
Speaking with the Weekender via Zoom on Tuesday, newly re-signed hooker Mitch Kenny was full of praise for the NRL and how they were able to keep the game alive despite so much uncertainty around the country.
“The NRL has done a fantastic job getting us all up here and we’re very fortunate to be on the Sunny Coast with beautiful weather and great facilities,” he said.
“It’s a privilege to keep doing what we’re doing and being able to play. Massive hats off to the NRL to be able to pull this off.”
While on social media it might appear the Panthers are running amok around the Twin Waters resort like they’re on Year 8 camp, Kenny confirmed the players know when it’s time to put the pool toys away and get down to business.
“Maybe there were a little bit of teething [issues] the first day around training and stuff like that, but we’re trying to make sure we’re not treating it like a holiday and we’re not taking for granted the opportunity we have,” he said.
Unlike other away trips, on this occasion each Panther has their own room at the fabulous Maroochydore resort. But that’s all expected to change in the coming weeks when the players’ partners and families arrive in town.
On Monday night, the families of NRL players were finally given clearance by the Queensland Government to head north. The families will spend the next two weeks in hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast before reuniting with their loved ones at the various hubs around south-east Queensland.
Kenny, whose girlfriend Isabella will join him in paradise shortly, said it was a nervous wait for information on when families could fly up.
“I’ve got my girlfriend coming up to join me, which will be really good and I’m looking forward to that,” the 23-year-old said.
“It’s been a pretty anxious wait to see what’s happening there with families and people with partners who are pregnant. It’s nice to know that we’ll be able to get our families up here, but unfortunately I have to leave the dog at home.”
Kenny is one of the most popular members of the Panthers’ playing group, with the hardworking Windsor Wolves junior inking a new one-year contract to remain at Penrith just last week.
“I’m happy, I just feel like this is the best place for me,” Kenny said.
“Panthers is my home and these are the guys that gave me the opportunity to play first grade and live out my childhood dream.
“They’ve been nothing short of awesome working with me and my development over the last few years. I want to repay the faith and do good things for this club.”
Those thoughts were echoed last week by Panthers General Manager of Rugby League, Matt Cameron.
“He’s always made the most of his opportunities in first grade and we’re delighted he agrees Panthers is the best place to continue to develop his game,” Cameron 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.