Cowra's Bill Statham has continued to go from strength to strength, with the young prop selected in the Penrith Panthers' SG Ball train on squad for 2022.
Bill's father, Graham Statham, said it was exciting that his son had been re-signed by the Panthers, with Bill on a three-year contract with the side.
"He had a three year contract with them that was finishing in October this year so we were waiting to hear what was happening," Graham said.
"He's had a pretty big year of football... so we were hopeful that they were going to extend, so it was good news when they finally rang us."
Despite the ongoing COVID pandemic causing a number of disruptions to competitions across the state, Statham has been called up to a number of representative sides throughout the year, including the Western Rams and combined Independent Schools team.
"He made the Western Rams team for the Under 18s and he was starting prop there," Graham said.
"They made it through to the semi-final but then they lost to Northern Tigers so they didn't make it to the grand final.
"He was a bit disappointed that he then didn't make the Country team that was selected from that but his manager just said look, head down, you've really got to make every post a winner from here on in.
"He ended up making the combined Independent Schools team for the NSW Schoolboys Championship as starting prop for that, so that's a big feather in his cap this year."
Statham has also featured in the Cowra Magpies' Under 18s side, as well as putting his hand up for the Reserve grade squad.
He has also managed to keep fit by playing for his school's rugby union team at Stannies in Bathurst.
"He's been fortunate enough that at least the Cowra Under 18s have been going up until the semi-finals basically," Graham said.
"[He] played two games with the Reserve Grade where he stepped up after his 18s games so he's had quite a good year for being able to make two rep teams and then come back and represent his town which was nice."
Graham said his son has been fortunate to get plenty of matches under his belt despite lockdowns across the state.
"We were down for the NSW Schoolboys Championships, it was the end of June and that was just when they were starting to close things down," he said.
"The kids down there haven't played footy, sports been off so he's been very fortunate to then be able to come back and play for Cowra cause the country sport was still on."
Graham said his son was determined not to 'put all his eggs in one basket', with Bill accepting an early entry offer to study policing at the University of Western Sydney next year.
"[The university] happens to be at Kingswood, which is suburb short of Penrith," Graham said.
"The last three years, they've been ferrying him down on a Friday, he trains Friday afternoon and then trains Saturday morning and they ferry him back to Bathurst.
"It will just be so much easier next year."
Despite being a passionate Parramatta Eels supporter, Graham said Penrith have been very supportive of his son.
"They've been very good in saying, football is really your plan B," he said.
"They've really always pushed you need a job, you need a university degree or whatever it is that you're looking to do so this is great that it is tying in, the planets are aligning a little with where he is off to uni and the fact that it is Penrith that has signed him.
"He loves it, and at the moment, he sees this as an opportunity."
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