Penrith Panthers NYC stars Soni Luke and Tyrone May have a long history together but it hasn’t always been an amicable one.
The duo have proved to be some the most consistent performers for coach Cameron Ciraldo over the course of this season, having both played regularly despite the constant rotation of the squad.
Luke and May have both developed into leaders in a side which currently holds down first position on the competition ladder.
However being within the Panthers’ high-performance environment is not foreign territory for these two local juniors.
"Tyrone and myself are the only two players within the NYC squad to have played in every development and junior representative squad for Penrith since the Under-12’s development squad," Luke said.
Luke and May are testament to the mantra that hard work and focus is rewarded within the Panthers system. However they have also seen first-hand what can happen when players become complacent.
"So many quality footballers that we have played with either gave up after getting caught up in the wrong crowd, got injured and didn’t recover properly, or weren’t prepared to push themselves to that next level," Luke said
"There have been times when we have come back from playing reps and performed poorly due to complacency but luckily we took the criticism on board and worked harder."
After playing with each other in the same representative sides for so many years it would be easy to assume that these two had forged a special friendship but for many years, that wasn’t the case.
"Up until SG Ball, Tyrone and I hated each other purely because we were both halves often fighting for the same position," Luke revealed.
May agreed their relationship was once a rocky one.
"I played for Minchinbury, Soni played for St Marys and our teams were fierce rivals," he said.
"We would almost pretend to be friends throughout the summer training with Penrith then once the Junior League began again we would dislike each other."
These days, the duo has forged a genuine friendship which sees them hanging out together around the club and in their spare time.
Both Luke and May abide by the NYC policy of ‘No Work, No Study, No Play’ and work for the Panthers on the Prowl as support staff. They help teach school children of all ages the importance of education and healthy lifestyles.
"Our job is great, it allows us to give back to the community as well as being a great outlet away from the field," May said.
But for now it’s back to the training paddock as Luke and May turn their attentions to the final rounds of the regular season and helping their side push towards the goal of the 2015 NYC Premiership.