He has steadily been building up to a big moment, and now, for Sam McKendry, the young New Zealand prop who made his international debut in the Four Nations has received wraps from Panthers coach, Matthew Elliott.
He is the player that both Elliott and Panthers captain Petero Civoniceva have high hopes for in 2011, as McKendry looks to get progressively better, and the Panthers look to quash people’s perceptions that they will not make the 8.
“Man, he was unbelievable the other night [in our trial],” said Elliott,
“At the beginning of last year I thought Sam was going to be a first-grader, we might get 10 games out of him, but he played every game and turned himself into an international.
“Our two young props, him and Tim Grant, are highly impressive players, they’re good people, they’ll drive the squad along and I think they will be a handful.”
What makes the success of McKendry even sweeter for the man himself, is that just 12 months ago, he was told that he weighed too much, and would struggle to succeed in the NRL.
With the help of Panthers Trainer Carl Jennings however, that all changed, and now McKendry has emerged as one of the props to watch this season in the NRL.