Western Rams juniors learn plenty at Emerging Panthers mini camp

SHARING KNOWLEDGE: Former Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston spoke to the Western Rams who attended the Emerging Panthers mini camp this week.

SHARING KNOWLEDGE: Former Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston spoke to the Western Rams who attended the Emerging Panthers mini camp this week.

SPENDING time in a classroom and more than four hours of hard work - it hardly sounds like the way some of the best young rugby league talents in the Central West would choose to spend part of their school holidays.

But when the lessons are coming from the likes of former Penrith Panthers star Kevin Kingston and hard work entails training sessions which could one day lead them to the NRL, well, it's something the Western Rams juniors relished.

On Wednesday members of the under 16 and under 18 Western Rams squads joined with a number of Penrith locals to take part in an Emerging Panthers mini camp.

They took part in a welfare education session with Kingston as well as on field skills and opposed sessions.

Panthers Academy coach Ben Harden said the day not only gave him a chance to better cast his eye over the talent within the Western Rams' ranks, but to expose the talented teenagers to the world of professional league.

"Throughout the year I've only had glimpses, I've had an hour here, half an hour with our players, so to bring them to a central venue and have them for six to eight hours, for a whole day and build those relationships is pretty much invaluable," Harden, who coaches the Panthers' under 20s, said.

"Their last 10 minutes was as good as their first 10 minutes after basically four, four-and-a-half hours of field work.

"It's a credit to them and I think the relationship between us and the Western Rams region has come to fruition.

"As we know selection gets harder and harder, but the harder they make our job, the better we are going to be long term.

"Taking them into the video room, using the facilities, the boys are bubbling. It's an asset not just for our current players, but to recruitment and retention.

"I don't think there's a 16 or 17-year-old in the country that wouldn't want to be training here."

Kingston, who played 105 NRL games for the Panthers and was skipper in 2013, talked about off-field aspects of playing higher-level football.

That included how to rest and relax.

"I emphasised the importance of sleep, obviously they are very young and their brains are developing so I just showed them some sleep routines they need to have in place," he said.

The day builds on the work that the Panthers' have done to strengthen their links with the Rams through things such as high performance clinics and the Regional Academy Program.