COME May the current crop of Penrith Panthers will converge on Bathurst for an NRL match, but before then one the club’s hall of famers will visit the city.
Greg Alexander will be in Bathurst next Thursday to talk about the upcoming NRL season – no doubt he’ll expect great things from his beloved Panthers – and pass on some of the skills that saw him not only impress for Penrith, but earned him NSW and Australia caps.
The man nicknamed ‘Brandy’ will join other former league stars turned Fox Sports commentators Brett Finch and Mark Gasnier plus James ‘The Professor’ Rochford and Jessica Yates in Bathurst for the Full-On Footy Tour.
They will go to Kelso High School, conduct a clinic at Eglinton, visit CSU during O-Week then take part in a sportsman’s night at Bathurst Panthers.
“I'm certainly looking forward to it and I know the boys I'm going with are too, just to have a chat about the upcoming season with country football people,” Alexander said.
“I guess country people don't get the opportunity to come to NRL games as often as those who live within the city, so face-to-face meetings with former players or current players, it's a pretty special thing for those who love their rugby league out in the country.
“I know Penrith are doing a great job with the surrounding areas and doing their bit and we'll be out there representing Fox and doing our bit.”
A halfback who also played representative football at fullback and on the wing, Alexander captained the Panthers to their maiden premiership in 1991. His efforts in that 19-12 win against Canberra included a 38-metre field goal.
Though that was a highlight of his career, Alexander said he enjoyed the chance to play outside the major metropolitan areas.
“Yeah, I played in Bathurst. I can't remember exactly what year it was, but I think I played a couple of games in Bathurst. Whether they were trial games, pre-season - they probably were,” he said.
“But I played in a lot of country areas in one-off games right through the state really, right out as far as Broken Hill.
“It was enjoyable … I had the same feeling when I played as I do this year thinking about coming out and spending time at Bathurst.”
Alexander said the Full-On Footy Tour, which will visit Newcastle and Wollongong before arriving in Bathurst and also includes other Fox Sport identities touring in Queensland, is a good way to encourage the growth of the sport.
“We’re always talking about what the game should be doing, I guess every fan has got a stake in the game and the game is always trying to make itself better and trying to improve its reach,” he said.
“Whether that be through broadcasting or junior numbers - it's always something that's a point of discussion, the future of the game.
“A lot of that talk in recent years has surrounded country football and the assistance that country rugby league needs. So I guess we're promoting the game 24-7 all year round and discussing ways in which we can improve the game and make it better for fans and players and everyone involved.
“It will be a whirlwind tour and it will be good.”