What’s behind Liam Henry’s stand-out season at Penrith?

Panthers forward Liam Henry. Photo: NRL Photos.
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Like a fine wine, Panthers prop Liam Henry is getting better and better with each and every game he plays.

After running out in Penrith’s season opener against the Storm down in Melbourne, the 22-year-old has now racked up a dozen appearances in the NRL this year – and he has no plans on stopping either.

“I’m loving this year, it’s been really good and I’m learning a lot,” Henry told the Weekender.

“I love this team and I love this club. I’m picking up what I can from week to week and just trying to improve – that’s the biggest thing.”

And improve Henry has.

The Blayney Bears junior is now playing more minutes, getting in more work, and he’s even scoring some tries too – not bad for a prop who played three games of first grade across two years coming into this season.

“I think it’s just my confidence,” Henry said of his recent form.

“I’m feeling more confident with the boys and feeling part of the team, I think is a big one.

“I’m really loving how we are going and it’s been really good.”

While it came in a loss, one of Henry’s standout performances in his first full season in the top grade was against the St George-Illawarra Dragons at BlueBet Stadium in Round 13.

Panthers forward Liam Henry. Photo: NRL Photos.

Making his first start of the year – playing in the second-row – Henry notched up 74 minutes and made a jaw-dropping 78 tackles, which was six tackles shy of the all-time NRL record.

Henry said he was “shocked” when he discovered he had tackled nearly 80 times in a game, only missing twice.

“It felt like we did a lot of defence in the second half. They had a lot of possession and that’s how the game went,” he said.

“I was pretty buggered out there. You could see that by the end of the game when I went to take a carry and clean dropped it. I didn’t have much left in me, but it was a good lesson.”

Penrith, who now sit in second place on the NRL ladder, will enjoy the bye this week with Henry returning to the state’s Central West to visit his friends and family before the Panthers prepare for their Sunday afternoon showdown against North Queensland at BlueBet Stadium on June 30.

Forward Liam Henry crosses the line for his second career try. Photo: NRL Photos.

Henry said he’s looking forward to a huge run home as he pushes to put his hat in the ring for James Fisher-Harris’ soon-to-be vacant spot in the front row.

“Firstly, Fish is going to be a massive loss. He’s a massive role model to me and all the middles at this club – we’re going to miss him a lot,” Henry said.

“I’m just taking it one week at a time, enjoying my time in first grade, enjoying the minutes I’m getting, but still trying to learn off Fish and Moses every week and soak in as much as I can.

“Whatever happens next year happens, I’m just trying to get better every week.”

Nathan Taylor

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.

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