ST Pat’s junior Ash Cosgrove has enjoyed a winning start to his Harold Matthews season for the Penrith Panthers and as a bonus picked up a try on debut.
The centre and his Panthers side stormed to a 22-0 victory over the Balmain Tigers on Saturday and the Bathurst talent is hoping there’s more good times to come over the next two months of the under 16s competition.
Panthers went into the break up only 6-0 in Saturday’s season opener and desperately needed some spark.
The team came to life in the second half, spurred on by Cosgrove’s try early in the new period.
Saturday marked the beginning of a busy schedule for Cosgrove, who heads up to training once a week for the Panthers, and will return to Group 10 Pat’s junior league immediately after the Harold Matthews competition concludes.
Cosgrove has already enjoyed a strong share of representative football experience, including last year’s under 15s Greater Western Rugby League side and Group 10 teams.
It's been a long road to get to the final Penrith squad and Cosgrove said it’s rewarding to have finally played on the Panthers Stadium turf.
“It’s a completely different experience playing on the NRL field. They’re all really good people up there and they take great care of you. There’s really good facilities too,” he said.
“I got invited to a development camp last year. Then the recruitment manager, after the camp, gave me his card and told me to give him a ring. I went back up and offered me a contract.
“The first cut was at 80, then it was to 46 and then down to 24 and that’s the final team we’ve got now.
“We have Raiders this weekend at Canberra. We don’t know too much about the other teams but Parramatta always has a strong team.”
Parramatta await the Panthers at St Marys Stadium following Penrith’s trip to Canberra.
It’s a completely different experience playing on the NRL field.Ash Cosgrove
There’s little room for error in the under 16s competition with just nine rounds of games before the finals in April.
Cosgrove is joined in the Panthers side by fellow Central West talent Liam Kennedy, from Orange.