How Penrith’s NRL grand final charge was built on becoming a Pacific powerhouse

There are two things the Penrith Panthers do well — grassroots development and nurturing its Pacific Islander players and their culture.

All but four of the club’s starting thirteen in Sunday’s NRL grand final are Pacific Islanders.

There are seven Samoan and two Fijian heritage players in the run-on side, with two more players of Pasifika heritage on the bench. 

If Penrith wins the NRL Premiership this weekend, they’ll have won all four elite rugby league competitions in NSW this year: the NSW Cup, the SG Ball Cup (under 19s) and the Jersey Flegg Cup (under 21s).

Winning all four in the same year will be a first in rugby league history.

Penrith’s remarkable results this year prove its pathway and development systems are the gold standard.

Good systems are then paired with the club embracing its location and culture.

Penrith is in Western Sydney – a gritty heartland of rugby league with a large Samoan diaspora, especially in Mount Druitt.

Blacktown City Council data reports in the last 20 years, the number of Samoans in the area has more than doubled to account for 4.2 per cent of Mount Druitt’s population.

Penrith has led the way in cultural awareness and inclusion of its Pacific Islander players and Samoan community.

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