Country roads take Henry home

Liam Henry has had a strong start to the season. Photo: NRL Photos.
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On the eve of Penrith’s annual trip to Carrington Park in Bathurst, one country lovin’ Panther says he can’t wait to get back to his roots and give back to the game in the bush.

Rising Panthers prop Liam Henry is one of the true success stories of country rugby league after getting discovered by legendary Penrith Recruitment Officer Jim Jones whilst playing for the Western Rams over five years ago.

“It was Jim Jones who picked me, so a big thanks to Jimmy,” Henry told the Weekender.

“I played with the Blayney Bears until U18s and then made it into the Western Rams squad and got picked up by Penrith through that.

“There were a few boys that got discovered that day too – we had a really good side that year.”

Henry has come a long way since leaving his family in Blayney behind and relocating to Penrith to chase his dream to play first grade in the NRL.

After debuting in 2022, the 22-year-old forward is finally starting to string some games together after being named on the bench in each of Penrith’s five games this season.

Henry said he loves where he comes from and he wouldn’t be the man and player he is today without his country upbringing.

“There’s a lot of talent in the country and it’s always on display,” he said.

“It’s always good to get back home and see everyone. I love going to watch the bush footy and watching all my mates play. There’s plenty of talent out there, that’s for sure!’

After enjoying the week off courtesy of Penrith’s first bye of the season, Henry will return to the training paddock this weekend as he and his teammates prepare for the Royce Simmons Cup against the Tigers.

It’s always a game Henry has circled on his calendar each year as it’s a chance for his nearest and dearest to watch him play.

“I played in that Bathurst game last year and it wasn’t the result we were after that night. The rain came down pretty heavy and it was pretty cold conditions, but the experience of playing back home was unreal,” Henry said.

“The ground is only half an hour from Blayney, so I had a lot of family and friends there which made it very special.

“It’s definitely something I look forward to throughout the season, so it’s going to be unreal.”

With so many NRL players hailing from the country, a topic was raised in the media last week about bringing back the classic City vs Country game, which was abandoned due to lack of interest back in 2017.

Henry, who used to grow up watching the fixture on TV as a kid, said he’d love to see its return one day.

“I’d be all for it – it used to be amazing. I couldn’t think of anything more special than playing for country, that would be awesome,” he said.

“I never got the chance to see a game live, but to be a part of it would be unreal.”

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