Penney stands out for Karaka in season opener

Penney stands out for Karaka in season opener

Last weekend’s season opening round was a successful day for Karaka on a number of levels with all of their senior teams winning their matches but perhaps the biggest reason for their fans to be happy was the performance of a young star.

Saturday’s win over Manurewa at Karaka Sports Complex was the coming-of-age of young first-five Josh Penney, who was a stand-out in a game that featured the two sides that played out an epic final last July but also two sides that are likely to be right in the thick of it in the business end of this year’s McNamara Cup.

Penney was superb in the number 10 jumped, leading his team around the park, kicking strongly and making the right decisions at key times.

His performance earned the praise of long-time Karaka coach and former Counties Manukau first-five Craig Hill.

“Pretty composed – kicked all his goals and led the team around the field well so he should be pretty happy with himself,” Hill told Counties Sports Hub.

Some eyebrows were raised last season – Penney’s rookie campaign – when he didn’t see a lot of time in his best position of first-five but Hill’s own experience in the crucial position and his long-term view might have yielded some real success for both Penney and his club.

“Last year we brought him into senior rugby and wanted him to just feel his way into it rather than throwing him straight into the hot seat and I think that showed the better of that today,” Hill explained.

Penney looked right at home on a big stage against top quality opposition and looks set for not only a strong season this year but a long stay in that crucial first-five role for Karaka.