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Chris Smith loving life at Penrith despite lack of NRL action

Panthers second-rower Chris Smith
Panthers backrower Chris Smith is loving the winning culture at the western Sydney club.

Penrith second-rower Chris Smith admits he’s addicted to something – a winning feeling.

He’s having plenty of that at the Panthers after moving to the western Sydney club from Canterbury this year.

The Darwin product has helped the NSW Cup side get to second spot on the ladder with 13 wins and five losses in 2022.

It shows how strong the competition for places is when a quality backrower such as Smith – who scored a try in his team’s 48-6 win over Blacktown Workers on Sunday – has to bide his time in reserve grade.

“I always aspire to be there (in the NRL). I’m close and on the edge, but you’ve got Viliame Kikau and Liam Martin there,” he told BettingSite.com.au.

“There are a lot of quality players, so it’s hard to push your case.

“But all I need to do is try to play good here, and just be ready if there’s ever an opportunity to play.”

READ: Staines happy to play his role at Penrith

Coming from the struggling Bulldogs, Smith has only played two NRL games for the defending premiers this year.

But that isn’t to say he is not loving his time at the foot of the mountains, with Penrith’s NSW Cup outfit also a very strong side.

“I’m just enjoying being part of a good winning culture and winning every week. The energy is great, especially coming off a premiership year,” he said.

“I never experienced it (being a part of the premiership celebrations last year), but it’s very infectious and I just want to be a part of that going forward.”

Smith said everyone in the 30-man Panthers NRL squad was keen to atone for his side’s 22-20 loss to the Eels in Round 9.

The two teams will clash in another western Sydney derby at CommBank Stadium tonight.

“Against the Eels – they’re the only team which has given the boys a bit of trouble this year,” Smith said, with the Panthers’ loss to Parramatta back in May their only defeat of 2022.

“But I think the boys will be ready to play well, especially both grades to try and build some momentum towards the finals.”

READ: Eels vs Panthers NRL betting tips – Friday, July 29

Smith praised the courage of the Panthers’ first-grade side after its highly physical 20-10 victory over the Sharks last Saturday night.

Jarome Luai (MCL, six weeks), Mitch Kenny (MCL) and Stephen Crichton (ear laceration and concussion) were all casualties from that outing.

“It was a quality performance from the boys to hang in there,” Smith said.

“With the (Origin) boys gone the past five weeks there’s been a lot of fight around the club, especially to have that quality come back – all seven boys.

“It just lifts the energy and the standard. It’s a good energy going forward.”

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