Lang on League: Where are they now – Jersey Flegg Players of the Year

Corey Waddell was one of Penrith's top prospects. Photo: NRL Photos.
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When you think Panthers, you think of the wonderful junior nursery and the incredibly successful Pathways Program, particularly, over the last five years.

The strong form of Liam Henry this year, himself a graduate of that program had me thinking. I wonder what happened to past players who had won the Panthers Holden Cup/Jersey Flegg Cup Player of the Year Awards.

Between 2020-2022, due to COVID and the disruption it caused to lower grades, a Jersey Flegg Cup Player of the Year was not given out, so I thought I’d look at the last 10 winners dating back to 2011 and find out what happened to them.

2011 – Kurt Horton – Unfortunately Horton never played first grade, but he did play a lot of football, first for Mt Pritchard in the VB NSW Cup before moving to the UK and turning out for Workington. He finished with the Asquith Magpies in the Ron Massey Cup in 2018.

2012 – Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi – Vaipuna easily won the Panthers Holden Cup Player of the Year. Unfortunately, Vaipuna could not get past reserve grade at Penrith. He did go on to play for the Northern Pride in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup before joining the Mt Pritchard Mounties in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership in 2017.

Vaipuna Tai Kilifi. Photo: NRL Photos.

2013 – Daniel Foster – Foster played International Rugby League for Tonga (2013-15) and for Penrith’s NSW Cup side in 2014-15.

2014 – Brendan Attwood – Attwood played reserve grade for Penrith in 2015-16 before finishing up at Blacktown Workers in 2017 in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership.

2015 – Moses Leota – Four-time Grand Finalist, three-time Premiership winner for Panthers. He has also played six test matches for New Zealand over the last two years. Leota is signed with Penrith until the end of 2027. He has no plans to ever play for any other club.

2016 – Corey Waddell – Is currently playing in the second-row for the Manly Sea-Eagles. After playing reserve grade for Penrith he had stints with Manly (2019-20) and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (2021-23).

Corey Waddell was one of Penrith’s top prospects. Photo: NRL Photos.

2017 – Wayde Egan – Egan played made his first-grade debut for Penrith in 2018 before going on to play a total of 29 first grade games for the club. He signed with the New Zealand Warriors in 2020 where he has become a mainstay of the side.

2018 – Daine Laurie – Laurie went on to play three first grade games for the Panthers in 2020 before joining the Wests Tigers for the next three years. He returned to the foot of the mountains at the start of this season and played his best game ever for Penrith against the Sea Eagles last weekend.

2019 – Charlie Staines – The ‘Forbes Ferrari’ scored four tries in his first grade debut for the Panthers in 2020 before moving to the Tigers in 2023 after the Panthers told him he was free to look elsewhere at the end of 2022.

Charlie Staines. Photo: NRL Images.

Special mention to Jack Cole who last year won the NSWRL Jersey Flegg Player of the Year Award.

Finally last year’s Jersey Flegg Cup Player winner was Sam Lane, who is currently plying his trade by playing in the centres for the Panthers Flegg side.

He still dreams of playing first grade in the NRL.

Peter Lang

Peter Lang is an experienced sports writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades. He first wrote Lang on League for the Weekender in the 1990s, and worked for Panthers on its famous Panthers Magazine for several years.

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