Western Rams trio Matt Burton, Charlie Staines and Joey Hobby working for Penrith Panthers places

PANTHERS: Charlie Staines, Matt Burton, Joey Hobby in their Penrith Panthers gear. Photo: NICK McGRATH
PANTHERS: Charlie Staines, Matt Burton, Joey Hobby in their Penrith Panthers gear. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Charlie Staines, Matt Burton and Joey Hobby were all instrumental figures in Western claiming last year’s under 18s country championship crown.

Now all three are making the step up.

The Western champs are on the cusp of final selection in Penrith’s SG Ball side for the 2018 season, with the trio of Rams to take part in this weekend’s final trial against Parramatta on Friday night.

Staines, a fullback from Forbes, St John’s Dubbo junior Burton and Blayney gun Hobby have all trialed strongly thus far.

Another strong outting in the western Sydney derby with the Eels will go along way to 2018’s Panthers’ under 18s squad boasting three of Western’s best young talents.

Burton, a prodigiously talented half, said the country boys will find out if they’ll be part of Penrith’s SG Ball campaign, which is the NSW Rugby League run state under 18s premiership, on Sunday.

“We haven’t gone too bad. We’ve got a pretty good chance,” Burton said.

“We had a trial a few weeks back against the Bulldogs and did pretty well. We’re loving the step up.

“This is the highest level any of us have played.”

Which is saying something.

All three made the NSW Country under 18s side last season, while bottom age players – all three rep guns are still just 17.

The trio would be a welcome additions to Paul McDonald’s under 18s Rams side heading into this year’s country championship defence, too.

But Rams officials are thrilled the young stars are now getting their chance at furthering their rugby league careers.

Burton said the Rams program has been hugely influential in getting the boys to within striking distance of a spot with the Panthers.

“It’s been massive help to get us where we are now.”