Penrith Panthers is delighted to announce Izack Tago, J’maine Hopgood and Taylan May have been immediately upgraded to the club’s top 30 list.
All three players have been training with the Panthers NRL squad during the 2021 pre-season and will feature in the club’s NRL and NSW Cup trial games against Parramatta.
18-year-old centre/backrower Tago has signed a three-year deal to keep him in Panthers colours until at least the end of the 2023 season.
A local junior with St Marys, Tago was part of the club’s SG Ball squad in 2020 before the competition came to an abrupt end due to COVID-19.
“I’m super happy and grateful to commit my future to Panthers,” Tago said.
“I really want to make the most of this opportunity, keep working hard and put my best foot forward for the club.”
Fellow backrower and Queensland U20s representative Hopgood, 21, has agreed to an upgraded deal for 2021 with an option for 2022 in the club’s favour.
Originally hailing from Hervey Bay, Hopgood first joined Panthers in 2017 and progressed through the junior grades, before signing an NRL development contract in June last year.
“To get moved up to the top squad is really exciting cause it’s one step closer to an NRL debut,” Hopgood said.
“From the moment I came to Panthers I’ve been chasing that dream and now it’s a lot closer.”
Meanwhile 18-year-old outside back May has committed to Panthers until at least the end of the 2022 season.
Like Tago and Hopgood, Minchinbury Jets junior May came through the Panthers development system and joins older brother Tyrone in the club’s top 30 squad.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and so proud to be part of this club,” May said.
“I honestly never thought I’d reach this point so it’s a bit surreal, but I’m ready to make the most of it.”
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said the promotions were reward for the way the three players handled training with the NRL squad during the pre-season.
“As a development club we’re committed to creating opportunities for players who come through the Panthers system,” Cleary said.
“Izack, J’maine and Taylan have earned upgraded contracts with their performances in our junior grades, and their particularly impressive effort throughout this pre-season.
“All three of them stepped up over summer and showed they can compete at the same level as our top squad.
“We look forward to their ongoing development and are excited about their future in Panthers colours.”