PNGRFL Interim CEO Brad Tassell has today announced that Wellington Albert has agreed to a two (2) year contract with the Penrith Panthers commencing in 2014. Albert will be released immediately from his PNG Queensland Cup contract to take up the Penrith offer and will start training with Penrith in early January.
The two-‐year contract will see Albert start with the Panthers U20 squad in 2014 with a guaranteed top 25 first grade player contract in 2015. Tassell said after weighing interest from other NRL clubs he, Player Agent Steve Deacon and Albert felt the Panthers offer was the best balanced for Alberts welfare on and off the field;
“We and his family are exceptionally proud of Wellington and where he started 2 years ago when he was identified under the National Schoolboys program to where he is at now. We firmly believe he has the attitude, commitment and talent to make it all the way to the top in the NRL, which obviously Penrith also believe. Wellington and Steve recently met with Phil Gould, Coach Ivan Cleary and the player welfare department at Penrith and were impressed by the structure they have in place to look after their young players and in particular a player in Wellingtons case. We are very excited for the young man and he is hopefully the first of many that will come through the program over the next few years and into the NRL. You cant tell me know that there wont be thousands of young kids around the country who want to be the next Wellington Albert. The hard work for Wellington has only just started, he has a long way to go and has to keep improving and proving himself at every training session and every match. He has been given the pathway and opened the door, where he goes to from here is 100% up to him. I thank Phil and the Panthers for showing faith in the young man. The are getting a player of enormous potential and I have no doubt he will repay that faith tenfold back to the Panthers.”
Deputy Chairman of the PNGRFL Sandis Tsaka said that Albert had a very good group of experienced people around to ensure he is successful;
“Wellington has received great advice every step of the way from staff who care about his welfare and ensuring he will be looked after. This is a new PNGRFL and a new direction we are chartering and is a massive achievement for not only Wellington but also the game in PNG. It shows that what we have and are putting in place for the future is the right direction.
I don’t think there has ever been a PNG player recruited direct from PNG to an NRL contract, who hasn’t played a game for any club in Australia. This is history for the code and we have no doubt Wellington will blaze a pathway for other young talented players to emulate what he has achieved to date. It is vitally important that Wellington is part of a family atmosphere at Penrith and he will be placed with the Horo family who live close to the playing and training venue. This will allow him to concentrate on his training and playing. He will also be put through and continue his schooling and/or tertiary education by the club, which again is very important to us and to Wellington and his family.”
Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould says it’s exciting to have a player of Wellington’s potential joining the club.
“We look forward to assisting Wellington in developing both his rugby league career and his education through the University of Western Sydney. The signing of Wellington Albert also continues my own personal commitment to assist PNG in developing their Rugby League profile. With PNG players James Segeyaro and Junior Wari already in our system, I am hoping that in future more PNG players will look to develop their careers through the Panthers programs”.