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Competition - NYC.

Round - 11.

Teams - Panthers V Titans.

Date - 22nd of May 2016.

Venue - Pepper Stadium.

Photographer - Robb Cox.

Corey Waddell carries a last name that is familiar to many within the Penrith community thanks to his late father Steve, who played in the front row for the Panthers throughout the late eighties and nineties.

However, unlike many sons of former players in the Panthers system, young Waddell was not a standout player during his junior football years with Emu Plains.

"I made my first Penrith Development Squad in under-17s, so I was never a part of all the earlier representative teams," he said.

Waddell missed selection for the Penrith SG Ball Squad last year. Putting the disappointment aside, he played out the season with Western Sydney Academy of Sport (WSAS).

"Playing for WSAS was a great experience for me. At the time I didn’t think I was fast or strong enough to compete at that level," he said.

"Luckily I was given a lot of game time and developed the self-belief that I could match it with the best, as well as getting a well-timed growth spurt."

On the back of a strong SG Ball season and playing up in A-Grade for Emu Plains last year, Waddell was rewarded with a two-year contract from the Panthers during the NYC pre-season.

In Round 13, Waddell made his debut for Cameron Ciraldo's NYC side, coming off the bench against the Storm. His impressive performances have seen him establish himself as a permanent fixture for the high-flying NYC Panthers.

On top of balancing family and football life, Waddell is abiding by the 'No Study, No Work, No Play' policy of the NYC and is currently studying Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at the University of Sydney.

He hopes this course will allow him to pursue Veterinary Medicine further down the track. Corey also works as a Teacher's Aide twice a week.

However while times are good right now, Waddell has had to endure huge heartache over the past few years.

Over the Easter period in 2012, his father Steve tragically passed away.

"Dad’s passing happened so suddenly. I was 15 at the time and it really rocked me," Waddell said.

The Waddell family is incredibly tight-knit, with Corey sharing a special bond with older sister Alix and his mum Melinda.

"Being the man in the family now I try to look after my family as much as possible. Dad always said to me to take care of Alix and Mum, which I am standing by," he said.

"At no point after Dad’s passing did I want to give up playing footy, if anything I wanted it more. I still watch a lot of my Dad’s old games and think of him whenever I pull on a jersey.

"He is my inspiration."

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.