PENRITH Panthers' reserve grade coach Garth Brennan heaped praise on Port Macquarie's facilities and even hinted at a return next year after their big win in the VB NSW Cup on Saturday night.
The Panthers beat the Wentworthville Magpies 16-0 at Regional Stadium to keep their place at the top of the competition ladder, and Brennan was pleased with the performance in Country Round. But he was also thrilled with the Hastings' premier rugby league ground, as well as the hospitality shown by the Port City Breakers in organising the match.
Brennan has more community involvement on his mind next year should the Panthers return to Port Macquarie for another match.
He suggested running a coaching clinic for youngsters in the days leading up to the game.
Brennan said Regional Stadium was a "first class" facility, and the Hastings locals were amazing in their hospitality shown towards the team.
"The ground's great, and everyone's been really friendly and welcoming," Brennan said.
He said his players would be thrilled to take to the field in front of a large crowd, and suggested the game take place after a derby between the Breakers and the Sharks.
"The boys like playing in front of a big crowd, and the weather didn't help tonight," he said.
Only about 400 people turned up to watch the match. The crowd was bigger earlier in the day for junior matches, but rain sent punters scurrying home.
Brennan was diplomatic about playing in front of a smaller audience.
"It's not too dissimilar to the crowd you'd get [at a stand alone NSW Cup fixture]," he said.
Brennan took over the Panthers four years ago, and was involved with Port Macquarie local Jeremy Latimore's rise through the ranks.
Latimore is an integral member of the club's firsts team.
"He's a very good player and a really good guy as well," Brennan said of Latimore. "He's a credit to Port Macquarie. He represents them very well."
Port City Breakers president Geoff Kelly looked forward to more matches coming to Port Macquarie in the future.
"It's great to see the NSW Rugby League be proactive in bringing a game like this to the bush," he said.