More than 1200 players and coaches will attend a conference hosted by Panthers Juniors designed to stamp out violence that has forced kids out of the game.
More than 1200 players and coaches will attend a conference hosted by Panthers Juniors designed to stamp out violence that has forced kids out of the game.

Panthers tackling the violence driving kids out of footy

Panthers Juniors are tackling violence and bad behaviour that has infiltrated junior rugby league across western Sydney.

More than 1200 local players and coaches will attend a conference in March hosted by Penrith District Junior Rugby League designed to stamp out violence that has forced kids out of the game.

Attendance is compulsory for all U14s and U15s across the ­District's feeder 24 clubs.

"There's been a lot of, if not gang warfare, society issues around violence and what we call bad school behaviour. People are being bullied, if not threatened, on the streets, at Westfield or on train stations, and it's coming back to rugby league," Panthers Juniors GM Nathan Mairleitner said.

St Mary’s players Zhaoquin Tupulua (14) from Mount Druitt, Jade Elford (14) from Penrith, Latrell Toby-Smith (15) from Erskine Park. Picture: Julian Andrews
St Mary’s players Zhaoquin Tupulua (14) from Mount Druitt, Jade Elford (14) from Penrith, Latrell Toby-Smith (15) from Erskine Park. Picture: Julian Andrews

"It's perceived as, if it happens on the street, we go to court. But if it happens on the rugby league field, we might get a two-week suspension and come back and do it again.

"We've seen in recent times, where we talk about Panther Trophy tournaments, or the NRL's All School Carnivals, they're being constantly cancelled at the present time, because of behaviours that are happening at Westfield and train stations … they're being brought down to the field."

Mairleitner acknowledged the influence of gangs across the region and stressed that the district will not tolerate bad behaviour in 2021.

"As the rugby league fraternity, we need to start doing something about it," he said. "If no one does this trend will continue, because we are in western Sydney, with a couple of those big gangs like the OneFours.

"If you want to play rugby league, these are the standards and behaviours ... if you don't (meet the standards), it is a case of, well there might be another sport of another district that you can choose that will allow that behaviour to continue. But here in Penrith, it won't be tolerated."

 

SG BALL: ROUND 4 PREVIEW

Sometimes, Eels coaches forget that SG Ball prop Brock Parker is actually at training.

Only for a second, though. The Corindi Beach product is renowned for his unwavering consistency - there is virtually no difference between his best and worst sessions.

"He's the type of player where you have to look twice to see if he was at training, but the amount of work he does is exceptional," Eels' Elite Pathways and Coaching Director Joey Grima said.

"He was one of our better players against North Sydney and he was our best against Manly."

Parker's consistency has been key for Parramatta this season and coaches expect the youngster will play a huge role in tomorrow's clash against the Illawarra Steelers.

Parramatta's SG Ball star Brock Parker is ready to rip in against the Steelers. Picture: Bryden Sharp
Parramatta's SG Ball star Brock Parker is ready to rip in against the Steelers. Picture: Bryden Sharp

After using last week's bye to recover and condition, Grima said the Eels are feeling strong heading into Round 4.

"Illawarra are coming off a couple of good performances, they can be a dangerous side, but hopefully we can hold the ball and be disciplined, that's the focus this week" Grima said.

Around the grounds, the SG Ball Bunnies will host the Knights at Redfern Oval. Souths will be boosted by the return of Davvy Moale and Newcastle will be confident after Noah Nailagoliva and Travis Petersen punished the Panthers last week.

Penrith's Harold Matthews side will look to continue their dominance - in just three games, the youngsters have scored a whopping 18 tries and conceded just two.

Newcastle’s Noah Nailagoliva was impressive against the Panthers last week. Picture: David Swift
Newcastle’s Noah Nailagoliva was impressive against the Panthers last week. Picture: David Swift

The Roosters' Sydney and Central Coast Harold Matthews teams will collide and development manager John Strange is backing the Coast's spine Haydan Ritchie, Ethan Strange and Benaiah Ioelu to prevail.

"They're a small side, but I think they're the most skilful Harold Matts team in the competition," Strange said

"We've just brought Benaiah in from New Zealand, he's a very exciting player, working very well with the halves."

Strange manages the Central Coast Academy and believes the club has made serious inroads across the region.

"Before I started here, the better Central Coast kids would go to the Knights, we'd lose ten or twelve each year," Strange said.

"Now, Newcastle are still knocking on the doors, but because we've got them in development programs, they actually want to stay here and play with their mates."

 

 

 

Originally published as Panthers tackling the violence driving kids out of footy


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