When the Panthers go head-to-head with the Roosters on Friday for the NRL qualifiers they will have one special superfan cheering them on.
Six-year-old St John's Junior Rugby League player Durakai Smith attended his first-ever NRL game last week, one of the first major outings since an accident placed him in Westmead Children's Hospital, and on a long road to recovery.
Thanks to Panthers icon and the Smith's family friend, Brent Naden Durakai's first NRL game was made extra special.
Durakai's mum Brinae Smith said Naden had organised for the team members to meet with Durakai at the end of the game and get a photo with him, although they couldn't get too close due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"He loved it, it was really good," Mrs Smith said.
"Durakai idolises Brent."
Durakai also received a very special momentum from iconic Panther's player Nathan Cleary.
"Towards the end, Nathan Cleary handed him his footy boots. Durakai tried to put them on as soon as we got back but didn't realise that they weren't his size.
"The Panthers rang and said they have another surprise in store for him in a few weeks."
Durakai was also surprised by an array of new Panthers gear and a surprise visit from his pop and his uncle who drove all the way from Dubbo.
Mrs Smith said Durakai thinks that he's famous.
Durakai goes for two NRL teams, the Panthers and the Sharks, also teams in which his uncles cheer for.
Durakai has been surrounded by love with his parents and sisters by his side every step of the way, but there is one special person who he wanted to give a shoutout to, his best mate 'Buster'.
Durakai attends Geurie Primary School, and he and Buster are the only two students in year one at the school.
"We want to thank everyone back home for their support, it's incredible," Mrs Smith said.
Durakai has a GoFundMe Page as well as his own bank account that people can donate to in order to help support him in his recovery.
A fundraising event is also in the works in the coming weeks.
The Smith's post updates, including for fundraising, on their Facebook page Darkeye.
You can find Durakai's GoFundMe Page at https://au.gofundme.com/f/244re1um9c.
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