Kingston driven by pain to beat Pride
Penrith club captain Kevin Kingston has vowed to give it his all in his final roll of the dice on a rugby league paddock this Sunday afternoon for the inaugural State Championship fixture.
Having led his Panthers NSW Cup team to victory over the Newcastle Knights in last Sunday's grand final, Kingston will now shape up on NRL Grand Final Day against Intrust Super Cup premiers the Northern Pride.
While Kingston will be joined by a host of fringe first-graders to face the Queensland champions, there could've easily been two Penrith teams in action on the first Sunday of October had their NRL counterparts not faltered to the Bulldogs in last week's preliminary final.
Noticing the disappointment throughout the sheds following the first-grade side's loss to the Dogs, Kingston's motivation to succeed pushed him to conquer Newcastle – something he'll take into Sunday's battle against the North Queensland Cowboys' feeder team.
"It definitely pushed me to the realisation you definitely have to take your opportunities and you know while it is my last season, you don't know when these chances are going to come back around for the other blokes," Kingston told NRL.com following his side's huge 48-12 win over the Knights.
"You work all year for the moment so obviously it was very deflating, but overall the whole club and staff are very happy with our on-field performances across the board."
The positive year Kingston speaks of at Penrith is a reflection of the harmonious environment created by general manager Phil Gould, coach Ivan Cleary and NSW Cup coach Garth Brennan.
With Brennan choosing to remain in Penrith to see out their five-year plan instead of returning home to Newcastle, Kingston said his final mentor in rugby league was an "NRL coach in waiting".
The Panthers will now shape up against a team with an identical win-loss record in 2014 (20 wins, four losses) but the Nerang Roosters junior believes the mountain men have the cattle to rock the Pride. In fact, Kingston says the NSW Cup Panthers side is the most dominant team the veteran hooker has been a part of.
"You just have to look at the guys we have, there are a couple of experienced guys who are great footy players and a few future superstars as well so it is very exciting times here," Kingston said.
"We have played dominant footy all year and we're a very exciting football team but obviously we have to play to our potential every week.
"We're really looking forward to [playing the Pride]. We have a couple of guys that have never been to the big day before so it is going to be really good for them."
As for his imminent retirement, he just wants to be remembered as a guy who loved running around with his mates – and still making a difference behind the scenes at Penrith.
"I want to be remembered as someone who hopefully exuded that I really loved to play footy," Kingston said. "I love the game so much and I cannot wait to continue being a part of the game working with juniors at the Panthers."