Penrith Panthers bring joy to Kirinari kids

Penrith Panthers players with Kirinari student James Delailoa.
Penrith Panthers players with Kirinari student James Delailoa.

The in-form Panthers are focused on the NRL finals but that did not stop a group  of players bringing a bit of fun to the Kirinari students at Xavier College, Llandilo.

Glen Liddiard, Corey Harawira-Naera, Waqa Blake, Tyrone May and Sione Katoa took time out of their busy schedules to spend time with the students from the Kirinari unit on Monday, August 21.

The staff at were extremely grateful to have with some very excited students.

After Glen Liddiard’s short introduction to each of the players, students were given the opportunity to ask questions and many were curious about the lives of the football players.

Year 12 student Noah O’Callaghan surprised to learn from Tyron May, that the players train six days a week during pre-season. 

Shania McKenzie, however, was not surprised when Corey Harawira-Naera told her the toughest game the players had this year was against the Melbourne Storm.

Not all questions were football related. Jacob McAndrew in Year 11 wanted to know if Waqa Blake had a favourite game on the Play Station. 

“I like to play basketball, so I must say NBA 2K17,” replied Blake. 

Nicholas Ishac thought it quite funny that Blake also likes to listen to Cyndi Lauper.

After question time, students had their photos taken with the players and had some time to chat, get autographs, share handshakes, and even some hugs. 

Sports teacher George Massih said the favourite part of the day was the opportunity for students to run through some training drills including ball handling skills, running, passing, catching and kicking. 

Penrith Panthers players run through some training drills with the students.

Penrith Panthers players run through some training drills with the students.

“It was happy smiles all round as students played with heroes they only ever expected to see on television,” he said. 

“To wrap up the visit, the players signed posters and gave the students a Panthers lanyard to take home.

“This was met by cheers and claps from all our students and staff, who were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Panthers team.”

Corey Harawira-Naera thanked the school for receiving the players.

“We had a lot of fun and hope you all enjoyed your day. You all did very well today. I hope it was fun and you can take something away from today. We will try our best to win this weekend. Once again thanks for having us”. 

Mr Massih said the Kirinari students and staff at Xavier College could not thank the Penrith Panthers enough for giving the students the opportunity to meet some of their role models. 

“We have no doubt that this will be a moment in our students’ lives they will cherish for a very long time.”