Western Rams squads are now in training at Red Bend Catholic College, with players from Forbes, Parkes, Condobolin, Cowra and Grenfell here for weekly training sessions.
Penrith Panthers and Red Bend officially kickstarted their relationship as part of the Western Rams Rugby League Academy program at the beginning of November.
It’s all about keeping kids in the country during their education as well as making sure they’re up to speed with their league skills if they pursue a career in the metropolitan areas in future.
Over the past six weeks, the Western Rams squads, separated into three age groups, have been attending weekly training sessions.
The sessions have been run by head coach Cameron Greenhalgh and strength and conditioning coach Kayne Sokol, along with other local coaches Pat Rudd, Dan Barclay and Trevor Mawhinney.
Penrith High Performance Manager Matt Cameron said the club sees their relationship with the Western Rams as an opportunity to invest in country rugby league – and provides Panthers with an opportunity to support country league.
Academy Coordinator Steve Hooper said the players have been put through a series of skills, drills, strength and conditioning programs written and developed by Penrith Academy coaches.
Mr Hooper said having a club like Penrith taking part in the program allows talented local players to gain an insight into what is required to take that next step, building better players and also developing skills outside and away from rugby league.
“It’s been fantastic for the College to be linked with the Panthers and this will have a positive flow onto our school rugby league programs here at Red Bend,” he said.
Red Bend is one of three academies in the Central West, the others are located in Bathurst and Dubbo.
The partnership sees students and staff gain access to Panthers’ strength, conditioning and fieldwork programs and coach education sessions.
There is new weight equipment as well as training and medical equipment at each of the facilities.
This weekend players will travel to Dubbo to participate in an NRL welfare session and play trial games.
These games will help select the players who will represent the Western Rams in the Country Championships.