The Penrith Emus are set to kick off their 2018 Shute Shield season, when they play Southern Districts Rugby Club at Forshaw Park this Saturday.

The club has faced many challenges of late, including a first grade losing streak spanning almost 4 years, a revolving door of head coaches and even rumours that they may be fighting for their immediate survival in the Shute Shield.

“It’s been a hard road but we are battling on. We have lost quality players and personnel over the years to clubs with more funding, but we are definitely competing in the 2018 Shute Shield and I am confident that the boys will come out fired up”, stated Emus President Jim Hook.

Showing their un-wavering support for the region’s underdog Rugby team, Penrith RSL club have signed on as major sponsors of the Penrith Emus for the third year running.

Penrith RSL Club CEO Neel Chand stated, “Supporting local and grassroots sports is something that myself and my Board are passionate about”.

A die-hard Rugby Fan, Mr Chand stated “I know they will come back, they have worked very hard and have improved so much in the last three years, I think we will definitely see them get some wins this year.”

“Whilst they did not secure a win, the first grade’s form improved noticeably over the 2017 season. There was definite improvement in their skills, their determination, their focus; and it showed on the field,” stated Mr Chand.

“I think our boys will surprise some people,” stated Mr Hook, “They want to make their region and their club proud so they are coming out swinging this Saturday.”

“We need the support of the community to make a real difference though. Join our club, come out and show your support at our games, buy a cap or a scarf. Every little bit of support goes a long way for us and inspires the teams,” encourages Mr Hook.

Hook also has plans to develop the game from grass roots level, with several successful colts teams under the club’s belt, including the under 13s 2017 State Champions.

“There are some very, very talented young players coming up through our ranks, which is exciting for us to see. It’s up to us as a club to keep them with us and it’s through community support that we can do that. We have been working closely with our sponsors and community supporters in developing a strategic plan to rejuvenate Rugby Union in greater western Sydney,” stated Mr Hook.

Chairman of Penrith RSL Club, Frank Portelli, will be one of the local community leaders involved in the greater western Sydney Rugby union strategic planning. “I’m very pleased to be involved in the process as a part of Penrith RSL Club’s commitment to grass roots sports in our area.”

“We are also the major sponsors of the Penrith RSL Junior Rugby Union Club, which is the natural feeder club for the Emus. It’s our goal keep these players local and not lose them to other clubs as they mature.”

“Western Sydney is the heart of ‘League Land’ and we aren’t trying to compete or take away from other sports, we want to build up the game of union in the area to compliment other sports and give local players plenty of opportunities,” stated Mr Portelli.

The Penrith Emus 2018 Shute Shield season opener will kick off at 3.00pm at Forshaw Park this Saturday, against Southern Districts Rugby Club.

Penrith RSL Club Chairman Frank Portelli, Penrith RSL Club CEO Neel Chand and Penrith Emus President Jim Hook

Penrith RSL Club Chairman Frank Portelli, Penrith RSL Club CEO Neel Chand and Penrith Emus President Jim Hook