Rugby League

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Academy just part of Penrith's bold plan to return to their glory days

A redevelopment blueprint aims to properly nurture the largest junior rugby league nursery in the world and provide a fitting community facility for one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, writes Adrian Proszenko.

This is the blueprint to make Penrith the best in the west.

The Panthers have unveiled their plans to create an NRL academy the envy of its rivals as part of a bold redevelopment of their precinct.

The Penrith Junior Rugby League competition is the largest junior nursery in the world, with more than 8500 participants every year.

Until now they haven't had the facilities required to properly nurture their talents.

However, a master document - obtained by Fairfax Media - outlines a strategy to create a world-class facility which includes playmaker and positional academies, an NRL gymnasium, a high-performance unit and state-of-the-art rooms for physiotherapy, medical needs and video/computer analysis.

The facility will also house two all-weather playing fields to cater for the training needs for the NRL, NYC and junior representative teams, to be located within the previous golf driving range and the existing ground to the north of the old golf facility.


"We compete in a national sporting competition which has global appeal,'' Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould says in the document.

''If we are to truly represent the biggest and fastest-growing junior league in the country, then we need to be the biggest and most progressive sporting franchise in the country - certainly Western Sydney.

"Our objective is to create the Panthers NRL Academy, an organisation with the tools to support, market, develop and grow all aspect of rugby league in Western Sydney and Western NSW, from juniors through to our national NRL side.

"It is Panthers' belief that our home base for the NRL Panthers franchise needs to be the most visible and recognisable sporting landmark in Western Sydney. This development will deliver this.''

The academy is the first step in an $850 million masterplan to redevelop the Panthers Entertainment precinct to provide a fitting community facility for one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.

It is understood officials have been working closely with all levels of government to ensure required funds are raised.

''We will also develop three additional community playing fields for junior league, school sports, recreational Tag football competitions and even for use by other clubs,'' Gould said.

''Stage II will include the construction of an indoor multi-purpose Community Sport Centre for Western Sydney including aquatic centre, public gymnasium, huge range of indoor sports which will be open 24 hours a day as a safe haven to get youths off the streets, outdoor cycling, walking and jogging tracks, exercise stations, Scouts Association and the sports sciences campus of the University of Western Sydney. It will be a huge healthy lifestyles precinct for the people of Western Sydney - the place to be.''

The other key to the Panthers' vision is their stadium itself. The NSW government released its stadia strategy last year, which signalled the prospect of a ''tier two'' stadium in western Sydney.

Penrith officials will lobby to ensure either a redevelopment of Centrebet Stadium or the creation of a brand new ground.