NRL News | The mole

A youngster who achieved yesterday what no Australian athlete has achieved for four decades is set to sign a contract with the Penrith Panthers.

Ryley Smith, a promising 18-year-old hooker, woke up yesterday morning to learn that he had been selected for the Australian Schoolboy League’s merit squad.

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This followed his selection last year to Australia’s Under-18 cricket team, making him the first player to take home the green and gold honors in both big sports since Souths star Bronko Djura in the early 1980s.

“It was (being selected) a good thing to wake up to,” Smith, a balanced and mature 18-year-old told Wide World of Sports.

“I just finished my HSC yesterday, so it was a double cause for celebration.”

The St Dominics’ youngster at Kingswood was the Sydney Under-18 captain in the victory over Country earlier this year and also played touch football for NSW at the junior level.

A hooker in the mold of Melbourne namesake Brandon Smith, he was chased by several clubs, but he and his manager Steve Shearer decided to sign with the Panthers and hopefully join the freshman squad with a development contract next season.

In the summer, Smith is an aggressive opening batsman who has already played first year for Penrith in the Sydney quality competition despite his tender years.

Smith knows that, just like Djura in the 80s, he will eventually have to choose between his two sporting loves.

Djura chose the league and had a successful career at Souths and St George, playing nearly 100 freshman games.

“People keep asking me and honestly, I don’t know which direction I’m going to take in the long run,” he said.

“I get great support from both Codes and love them both – we’ll just see what happens.”

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