Expansion is on the cards in the National Rugby League, and an immortal of the game says the Western Rams region could be a key player in helping prop up a new franchise.
With Rams players graduating out of the Penrith system at an annual rate, Newcastle legend and eighth immortal Andrew Johns says other clubs should look at the Panthers' NSW Country blue print in order to identify and develop players.
Isaah Yeo (Dubbo), Matt Burton (Dubbo) and Charlie Staines (Forbes) played in Friday night's 30-10 demolition of Canberra.
In the last two years, Wayde Egan (Lithgow), Billy Burns (Parkes) and Kaide Ellis (Dubbo) have all made their NRL debuts with Penrith before joining new clubs.
While reigning Dally M Medal winner Jack Wighton is also a Western boy, playing his junior footy with Bloomfield and Orange CYMS before linking with Canberra.
Johns is concerned about the NRL's current player pool if a 17th NRL team is to be approved, which commission chairman Peter V'Landys has said could be as soon as 2023.
But, talking on his Freddy and the Eighth show, a new club, or the 16 others currently in the NRL, could do worse than look at country NSW to find talent.
"They've got two players form Dubbo, Isaah Yeo (and Burton), Charlie Staines from Forbes ... Liam Martin from Temora," John said.
"They're doing a great job in NSW Country, maybe a few other clubs have to look out west. By geez, Charlie Staines is a good player."
Johns said bringing players back from the English super League could also help boost the NRL's playing stocks when a 17th team comes to fruition.
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