Dylan Edwards isn’t the flashiest player in Penrith’s juggernaut NRL side, but the fullback’s enormous importance to the Panthers was again on display as the reigning premiers marched through to the grand final on Saturday night.
Edwards was at his tremendous best as Penrith overcame South Sydney 32-12 at Accor Stadium, setting up a grand final clash with bitter western Sydney rivals Parramatta in the process.
The Panthers will shoot for back-to-back premierships in a match against the Eels at Accor Stadium next Sunday night.
Edwards was phenomenal as the Panthers secured their ticket to a third grand final in succession, racking up 287 run metres, registering 14 tackle breaks and operating at his defensive best.
“He’s a freak,” Nathan Cleary told Nine after the game.
“I’m really glad he’s getting the accolades he deserves this year.
“We’ve known how good he is for a while now, and I absolutely love playing alongside him.”
Phil Gould is in awe of Edwards’ rise.
“I wish we had put a video tape on him from the embryo stage right through … the way he has trained and the perseverance he’s shown just to become the player that he is,” Gould said.
“He’s not the silky-smooth ball-player, creative-type player. He’s just 100 per cent effort on every run, every tackle. He’s the minister of defence. He’s why the Panthers defensive line is always so well organised. And whenever someone needs to be there, he is there every time.”
Paul Gallen branded Edwards an “absolute genius”.
“I spoke before the match about him and Latrell Mitchell and the differences in the two. But I promise you right now … the Penrith Panthers wouldn’t swap him for the world,” Gallen said.
“He is an absolutely outstanding player. Effort all the time.
“They wouldn’t swap him for anyone — Latrell or (James) Tedesco, anyone. They love him.”
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