Latu credits Dogs, Graham for ball skills
Talented Panthers prop Leilani Latu says time spent at Canterbury with star prop James Graham and assistant coach Jim Dymock honed his ball-playing skills to help turn him into the versatile front-rower we see at Penrith today.
The relatively unknown Latu played six games for Penrith last year but has featured in every game for his club from Round 3 onwards this season, making plenty of impact whether off the bench or in the starting side with his big mobile frame and silky ball skills.
He has started pumping out the tries too, with all four of his career four-pointers coming in his past six games.
Ahead of Penrith's must-win clash at home against the Eels this Sunday, Latu told NRL.com he had his time in blue and white to thank for developing those versatile skills.
"All the skills that I've developed over the years playing footy is from the Bulldogs," Latu said.
"The Bulldogs gave me those skills and since being here in Penrith, Penrith have helped me develop them even more. It's just a great opportunity to be able to play for Penrith."
Latu's 14 games this year have also netted him three try assists and four line break assists in a testament to his ability to not just run the ball hard (19 tackle breaks and 89 metres per game in limited minutes this year) but create as well.
"Whilst I was at the Bulldogs James [Graham] gave me a lot of feedback, him and Jim Dymock at the time," Latu said.
"They had a lot of great mentors over there that helped me hone my game and it's just great being here at Penrith where at this facility I can still develop my skills. I just try and get better every training session."
Latu is not the only skilful big man at the club – the Panthers pack is full of talented ball-players and offloaders like Trent Merrin, Tyrone Peachey and Bryce Cartwright, who's currently filling in in the halves.
"I think being at Penrith the forwards are lucky to have a lot of players with abilities like that and all we can ever do is just try and learn each other's tendencies and try and get better together. It's a great team with a great work ethic," Latu said.