Edwards grows from adversity

THERE was a time when Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards was low on confidence, facing a mental battle where the harder he tried to get himself out of the form slump the deeper the form slump became. That was in 2019, a million miles away from where his rugby league journey has taken him since, but he’s learnt a lot from then and he has grown into a leader at the club. Although there are some jobs that come with leadership he’d rather leave to the more experienced leaders, like the post match press conferences when the likes of Isaah Yeo and Nathan Cleary face the media. 

“It’s pretty early into my leadership role and I don’t mind it,” he said after Penrith’s round 13 win over Canterbury.  “We have got some great leaders in this club with Nathan and Yo-ee and Api (Koroisau) there. I don’t have to say a hell of a lot officially but lead by actions on the field.”

It’s a long way from the a horror run of form, but Edwards takes a lot out of the lows as well as incredible highs of the ensuing 18 months to two years. 

Photo: Penrith Panthers

“I am almost grateful for it in a way,” he said. 

“It gave me a lot of tools to be able to deal with adversity when it comes along and that’s been useful.”

The road to premiership glory wasn’t without it’s own adversity, there was the 2020 grand final loss to Melbourne after Edwards and the Panthers won the minor premiership. And when they returned to the grand final 12 months later Edwards was carrying a broken foot.         

“I didn’t know how I was going to go, I was just happy to come away with the win and we did what we did at the time,” he recalled.

“I didn’t know what was going on at the time and I just put my body on the line for the boys and they’d have done the same.”

It’s that kind of team-first mentality that has made him a fan favourite as week after week he has grown to be one of the game’s premier fullbacks. 

His ferocious no fear kick returns and determination in defence has certainly put him on the radar for representative football. Although there are some exceptional fullbacks standing between him and a State of Origin jersey, Ivan Cleary is very happy to have him as the premiers negotiate the Origin period in their quest for back to back titles.