He’s played in an NRL Grand Final, captained his side and been one of the game’s most consistent fullbacks for several years, but Panthers custodian Dylan Edwards is more than happy to be flying under the radar heading into his fourth NRL Finals Series.
While fellow fullbacks Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Latrell Mitchell garner plenty of attention in the media, it’s Edwards who has quietly gone about his business without much fanfare despite being an important part of Penrith’s success in recent seasons.
Speaking with the Weekender on Tuesday, Edwards said he’s prepared and looking forward to going toe-to-toe with some of the game’s elite fullbacks when the 2021 NRL Finals kick-off next week.
“You always want to play as good, if not better, than your opposite number,” he said.
“I think if there’s many players doing that in your team, you will go a long way to getting the result you want.
“To come up against guys like that is always a challenge – they are world-class players – but it’s something you look forward to as a competitor.”
Edwards may stay out of the media spotlight, but he’s certainly a favourite at the Panthers club with coach Ivan Cleary backing the 25-year-old on a weekly basis despite a couple of players, namely Stephen Crichton and Charlie Staines, nipping at his heels.
The Bellingen Dorrigo Magpie said he’s comfortable flying under the radar when it comes to the game’s best number ones, preferring to be the perfect complementary piece to the other superstars in his team.
“I’m more than happy not to be in that conversation, that’s fine with me,” Edwards admitted.
“Those players get the credit and deservedly so, they are outstanding footballers in their own right. They do it week in, week out, and they are just quality fullbacks.”
While Edwards is enjoying one of his best seasons statistically in the NRL to date, he knows he still has some improvement in him that will not only benefit his game but that of his fellow teammates as well.
The father of two said he’s focusing on being more vocal on the field.
“I’ve got to be vocal back there, tell people what I need from them and I’ve got to demand what I want – that sort of helps you find your voice,” Edwards said.
“We’ve got great leaders in Yeoy, Nat, Api and Capey, so I don’t really need to say much around the boys but, as far as my role on the field, I need to be more dominant and get the boys to do what I want them to do.”
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.