Panthers is delighted to confirm the six young guns on the club's NRL development list for 2019: Brian Too, Dean Blore, Billy Burns, Shawn Blore, Spencer Leniu and Brayden McGrady.
The NRL salary cap model allows each club to sign up to six youngsters on 'development contracts' in order to train with the full-time squad and be available for NRL selection midway through the season.
Date of Birth: 18 August 1998
Junior Club: St Marys
Too was on the scoreboard when the Panthers claimed the 2016 SG Ball Grand Final and National Championship title, and scored a memorable acrobatic try for the NSW U20s Origin side in 2018.
“Brian is quick and strong with quality footwork,” Panthers Academy Coach Ben Harden said.
“He’s also extremely good at returning the ball from the back end of the field and has 20 plus carries per game.
"Like all the boys, Brian is humble and hard-working and I can’t speak highly enough of him."
Date of Birth: 29 September 1998
Junior Club: Brothers
Dean Blore is a goal-kicking five-eighth who was a member of the premiership-winning Panthers SG Ball side in 2016. Last season he led the Panthers to the Jersey Flegg Grand Final last year and was selected for the Junior Kiwis. Dean underwent a shoulder reconstruction in the off-season and is due to return in the middle of 2019.
“Dean is a great kid and was exceptional in leading our Jersey Flegg side around the field last season,” Harden said.
“He’s a traditional five-eighth who likes to float around and play off-the-cuff, eyes-up football.
"He also has a very good kicking game and has the benefit of a bigger frame."
Position: Second Row
Date of Birth: 20 November 1998
Junior Club: Parkes Spacemen
Hailing from rural NSW, Billy Burns has enjoyed plenty of success in the Panthers lower grades. In 2016 he represented the Australian Schoolboys side, along with scoring tries in the SG Ball Grand Final and National Championship game. Last season he was selected in the NSW U20s Origin squad and was a reliable performer for the Panthers ISP side.
“Billy is a talented back-rower with silky hands,” Harden said.
“He’s not a traditional back-rower; he’s a ball-player with a good left foot.
"He’s learning the right balance between doing the hard stuff and moving the ball on the edge."
Position: Second Row, Lock
Date of Birth: 1 August 2000
Junior Club: Brothers
The younger brother of Dean, Shawn Blore is a hard-running back-rower with a dangerous offload. The 18-year old is a natural leader, having captained Panthers to the SG Ball and National Championship double last season and the NSW U18s team to Origin success.
“Shawn has deservedly earned a lot of accolades in his career so far,” Harden said.
“He is a powerful ball-runner and hits hard in defence, but the other parts of his game are also beginning to evolve.
"His passing, offloads and game awareness are really starting to flourish."
Date of Birth: 8 September 2000
Junior Club: Minchinbury Jets
After representing the Australian Schoolboys team in 2017, Leniu sadly missed the majority of last year's SG Ball competition through injury. However he still earned selection in the NSW U18s Origin side and played a key role in the Panthers Jersey Flegg side that fell just short in the Grand Final.
“Spencer is a front-rower who I expect to see establishing himself at the senior level in the next 12 to 18 months,” Harden said.
“He’s a powerful ball-runner with a very good work ethic.
"He’s an aggressive and full-on player once that whistle goes, but off the field he’s level-headed and humble."
Date of Birth: 13 December 1996
Junior Club: Goondiwindi (QLD)
Joining Panthers from Tweed Heads Seagulls, McGrady has been making a name for himself in Queensland in recent years. Before his 2018 season was abruptly ended by an ACL injury from which he is still recovering, McGrady had scored 11 tries in just 8 appearances for the Seagulls.
“Brayden is a ball-playing centre with a big, aggressive frame,” Harden said.
“He's coming off a knee reconstruction and is now at the back end of his rehab.
He’s looking fit and training well and is no doubt keen to show what he's capable of in 2019."