‘There’s too many quality players in this competition for them to have to be picked.’
A fearless Dylan Edwards has thrown himself head-first into training following a shoulder reconstruction as he prepares to fight off Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for Penrith’s No.1 jumper.
The pair are set to wage an off-season battle for the fullback spot with both possessing strong claims for the coveted role.
Edwards is on the comeback trail and in full contact training, having been limited to just eight NRL appearances this year after tearing the cartilage in his shoulder.
In his absence, Watene-Zelezniak made the No.1 his own before taking his game to another level when handed the New Zealand Test captaincy and earning a Golden Boot nomination.
While some players find themselves tentative and nervous coming back from shoulder surgery, Edwards has dived in since getting back on the paddock knowing that his jumper in under threat.
“I was good to go straight up,” Edwards said of his shoulder.
“I just thought to myself ‘if it’s going to go, it’s going to go’. I just chucked myself into it and didn’t really worry about it too much.”
And it hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Ivan Cleary, who described the 22-year-old as leading from the front.
Edwards has the inside running, standing at fullback during match simulation since the start of the pre-season.
However there will be some telling moments once Watene-Zelezniak returns after Christmas.
“I think we will battle it out,” Edwards said.
“It’s a good little challenge, it just shows the depth of our squad and that’s a strength in this comp.
“But I’m looking forward to the challenge. Dallin played really, really good footy for the Kiwis.”
Edwards made his first two NRL appearances on the wing however believes he can get the best out of himself at fullback.
And Cleary has laid down the challenge to the pair, urging them to demand the spot.
“They’ll decide that,” he said when asked how he will separate the two.
“There’s a few positions that are going to be difficult. t’s a good problem to have and those boys can both play other positions as well.”