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Panthers prop Jack Hetherington.

Penrith prop Jack Hetherington will feel a sense of going full circle when he runs out onto McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.

Hetherington will return to where it all began in the Hunter for the first time since departing the region at a young age.

The 22-year-old played his junior rugby league for the Valentine Devils before relocating to the Central NSW town of Young as a teenager.

The son of former Cowboys and Raiders prop Brett Hetherington, Jack played junior reps in the Hunter alongside the likes of Tyrone Walsh (brother of former Knights halfback Luke Walsh), Brad Mullins (son of former Raiders and Roosters star Brett Mullins) and Ryan Glanville (son of Knights legend Marc Glanville).

As it stands, Hetherington is the only player from that list to progress and follow the family path to first grade.

"I didn't really play in any junior rep stuff or come through a system like a lot of other players do, I came into it a bit raw," Hetherington told

Knights v Panthers - Round 2

"My first year in Sydney was when I was 18 at the Roosters. There were talent scouts at a local rugby league competition in the bush and Jimmy Jones (Penrith recruitment manager) was there.

"Word must have got around back in Sydney."

Hetherington eventually took an offer at the Roosters but only lasted 12 months before moving to Penrith following an approach from Phil Gould.

Since then he's become a work in progress for the club on the paddock.

A heavy suspension during his final year in the under-20s for a lifting tackle leaves him treading a fine line in every game with carryover points still haunting him three years later.

Any sort of minor charge can attract an immediate suspension.

Panthers prop Jack Hetherington.
Panthers prop Jack Hetherington. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"I don't want to be known as that guy who is a grub," Hetherington said.

"The carryover points is something that will be with me for a while and a lot of other players would probably get off a suspension but because of my history it is worse.

"I've worked a lot on my game and discipline. I just want to give 100 per cent and bring some aggression."

Hetherington has been named on the bench for the clash with Newcastle after Ivan Cleary made a late switch last week after originally naming him in the run-on side as Viliame Kikau's replacement.

"Jack's a player we've got a lot of faith in," Cleary said.

"He's got a lot of potential and when you get injuries other people get opportunities.

"I'm looking forward to seeing whether he can step up."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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