New Panthers recruit Zac Hosking has revealed a Zoom meeting with coach Ivan Cleary following just his second match in the NRL late last year was enough to convince him to join the back-to-back Premiers on a two-year deal.
The 25-year-old backrower made his first grade debut with the Broncos in Round 17 before going on to play three more games with the Red Hill-based club to finish the season.
Hosking enjoyed some breakout performances during his four NRL matches with Brisbane, which prompted Penrith – in the middle of their title defence – to set up a meeting over Zoom.
“A call was set up after my first two games with the Broncos. After my second game, there was a fair bit of interest and Panthers were the frontrunners. They set up a Zoom call straight away with Ivan and Matty Cameron and I was pretty flattered to have a chat with them and receive an offer,” Hosking told the Weekender.
“Penrith had just won the comp the year before and they didn’t look like getting beat at that time either last year, so to be able to be recognised and wanted by them was pretty cool.”
Hosking hinted that he received interest from other NRL clubs but said joining the Premiers would be far better for his career moving forward, even if he had to take a slight ‘haircut’ on his new deal.
“Penrith stuck out above the rest, just being in the position that they are at the moment, where you’d be happy to take a little bit less on your contract to go to a club like this,” he said.
Standing at nearly two metres tall and weighing in at 97kg, Hosking said he can’t wait to run out in Panthers’ colours for the first time this Saturday evening.
Penrith will take on the Eels in a Battle of the West trial at BlueBet Stadium, with Hosking eager to press his claim for a regular spot in the 17.
“Now that I’ve had a taste of NRL it keeps the hunger there,” he said.
“It’ll be nice to break into the 17 here. There’s a lot of healthy competition, which is making everyone train better and spend a bit more time on the field after training.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to try and get into the side and a few good performances in the trials will certainly help me.”
While Hosking got his NRL debut in Brisbane, it was at the Knights where he started his playing career. The Central Newcastle Butcher Boys junior was named the NSW Cup Player of the Year in back-to-back years.
Hosking believes joining the 2021 and 2022 Premiers will do wonders for his career, playing alongside some of the game’s best players.
“I think playing at the top level, you’ll naturally grow as a player by versing the better players… and also playing with the better players,” he said.
“Being able to run off guys like Cleary and Luai and Mitch Kenny, they’ll put me into holes and space and probably make me look better than I actually am.”
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.