Peachey thrilled to team up with JT, GI
The chance to meet your hero is something few get to experience. Even fewer still get the opportunity to ply their trade alongside those they idolise in their chosen field.
Versatile Panthers centre Tyrone Peachey couldn't hide his delight after being selected in the 2017 Indigenous All Stars side, picked in the same squad as Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis – two players he looked up to as he made his way through the junior ranks.
Named to represent the Indigenous All Stars for the third consecutive year, Peachey – who's played alongside Inglis twice and Thurston once before in this fixture – lamented the fact such a game didn't exist when he was younger, with community visits a key component of the week prior to the annual All Stars fixture.
"They were my idols growing up so it's awesome playing with them again, it was a lifelong dream," Peachey told NRL.com. "This will be the second time playing with 'JT' and then there's 'GI' and [Sam] Thaiday.
"I can't wait, I look forward to it every year. It's something that my family really looks forward to as well. They support me a lot when I'm playing with the All Stars, I can't wait to get up there at Newcastle and have all the family there.
"We didn't have much of that when we were growing up. Just seeing all the Indigenous kids and how much they love meeting us and all the big names like Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston, it's amazing for them.
"It would've been good if it was around when I was a bit younger but it's here now."
While the All Stars fixture remains some months away, Peachey's immediate focus remains on pre-season training with the Panthers and he said he's impressed by the size and athleticism of the club's biggest off-season recruit James Tamou.
Peachey's club teammate and fellow centre for much of 2016, Waqa Blake, said the signings of Tamou and former Dragons hooker Mitch Rein might just be the final piece of the puzzle for a youthful Penrith outfit.
"We've got a young group, with myself and a lot of other young players coming through the 20s," Blake said. "They're the older, more senior players that we need to help us out. They've been great, they've been training hard and they're looking good."
Both Peachey and Blake were on hand for the announcement of plans to build Australia's first all-weather synthetic rugby league field, to be situated in Panthers territory. A boon for the junior game, Blake stressed the importance the facility to the next generation of Panthers stars.
"It's massive. You can see with our juniors, we've got a lot of juniors coming out of Penrith. Guys like Bryce Cartwright... It's great to see something big like that built here," Blake said.