Yesterday Corey Payne, Panthers Member No. 33102, had his first official day as CEO and capped it off by writing an open letter to the members. Here is what he had to say...

Open letter from Panthers Member No. 33102

Today was officially my first day as CEO of the Panthers.

My day commenced with a morning tea where I formally introduced myself to all the Panthers staff. After a short speech on my behalf we enjoyed a delicious selection of sweets and cakes before Gus ate all the lamingtons. 

So, I would also like to formally introduce myself with a short note to you - our members and fans.

Although I'm a new arrival in Penrith, and will soon relocate to the area, I'm not new to Western Sydney. I was born and raised just down the road in St Johns Park. 

I am a Rugby League person through and through and Rugby league is in my blood. 

I am a Chester Hill Hornets junior and played through the junior grades at the Bulldogs before making my NRL debut with the Dragons in 2005. After four years at with the Dragons I moved to the Wests Tigers before finishing my career back at the Bulldogs, with my final game being the 2012 Grand Final. 

Following my retirement from the NRL, I completed a Masters of Commerce at the University of Sydney and was lucky enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship. It allowed me to travel the world and conduct research into how sport can be used for social change and build capacity within the community. I was also named the NSW Young Australian of the Year in 2013 before moving to Berlin, Germany in 2014 to complete advanced studies into Design Thinking. 

My passion for education also led me to establish the Future Direction Network (FDN) - an organisation that encourages and assists the youth of South West Sydney to purse university education. I am very proud of FDN and the outcomes we have achieved. To date we have committed $198,000 to eleven students studying at five NSW universities.

Most recently I was with Woolworths, working in their Transformation team. A challenging role given the state that the business is currently in.

I am delighted by the opportunity to join you at the Panthers at such an exciting time in the club's history. Over the last five years, tough decisions and hard work have helped to take this club to the enviable position it finds itself in today.

The Panthers Rugby League Academy is the best training facility in the Southern Hemisphere and is designed to fully harness the amazing talent coming through our junior league. 

Yesterday our SG Ball side was crowned national champions, while our under-20s team (who are defending premiers) continue to lead the Holden Cup competition.

The NRL side is full of young promising talent and I am confident that coach Griffin will achieve something special with these Panthers, not just in the near future, but over the longer term. 

The foundations are now well and truly in place for the club to achieve sustained success and reach new heights - both on and off the field. 

As we reflect on what lies ahead, I want you to have no doubt that members are the heartbeat of the Panthers. Your support is a constant source of inspiration for every person at the club, from the players, to the coaching staff and our football admin team. 

I look forward to seeing you at Pepper Stadium for our game against the Titans on Sunday. 

If you spot me on the hill or in the grandstands, please come and say hello. I am keen to meet you and get your feedback on the direction the club is moving and how we can improve what we do.

In the meantime please follow me on Twitter (@panther33102) and Instagram (@panther33102) and I will keep you in the loop with all the great things that are happening here at the Panthers.

See you at the game!

Corey Payne
Panthers Member No. 33102