Isaac John wants to enjoy first grade opportunity

Moving on: Isaac John is looking for an opportunity with another NRL club after learning he will not be a Panther in 2016. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Moving on: Isaac John is looking for an opportunity with another NRL club after learning he will not be a Panther in 2016. Picture: Brendan Esposito

If there is one player in the Penrith Panthers squad who can relate to what Peter Wallace is going through, it is the man who replaced him- Isaac John. 

With Wallace sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, the door has opened for John to get another opportunity in first grade. 

While it’s an opportunity the 26-year-old is happy to take, he knows exactly how Wallace feels, having missed the majority of 2014 with an ACL injury.  

‘‘It’s obviously unfortunate for Peter, he’s had a couple of bad injuries, to get one that’s exactly the same, I feel for him,’’ John said. 

‘‘I’ve had the same injury as well, I know the recovery process from it and I wouldn’t want to wish it upon my worst enemy.’’

John played a handful of first grade games earlier this season when both Wallace and Jamie Soward were on the injured list and returned to the NRL line up against the Rabbitohs in round 21. 

With five rounds remaining in the 2015 season and still a glimmer of hope of playing finals football, John is hoping to get as many NRL appearances under his belt as he can.

Mates: Isaac John (right) during a weights session with team mates James Segeyaro, Sam Anderson and Josh Mansour earlier this year. Picture: Geoff Jones

Mates: Isaac John (right) during a weights session with team mates James Segeyaro, Sam Anderson and Josh Mansour earlier this year. Picture: Geoff Jones

In addition to trying to help the Panthers win games, John will also be trying to put in the performances to keep his NRL career alive after learning he will not be at the foot of the mountain in 2016. 

‘‘I’m not sure where I’ll be at the moment, but I definitely know I won’t be here,’’ he said. 

‘‘I’m just riding out the wave at the moment and trying to enjoy my footy as much as I can and enjoy my last couple of games as a Panther.’’  

John made his debut with the New Zealand Warriors in 2009 and spent the 2012 season in the European Super League with Wakefield before linking up with the Panthers in 2013.

So far all 34 of his NRL appearances have been with Ivan Cleary as coach.

‘‘I think Ivan gave me an opportunity when a lot of people wouldn’t have,’’ he said.  

Test player: Isaac John made his debut for New Zealand in 2014, and has also played internationally for the Cook Islands during his time with the Panthers. Picture: Getty Images

Test player: Isaac John made his debut for New Zealand in 2014, and has also played internationally for the Cook Islands during his time with the Panthers. Picture: Getty Images

‘‘I’ve been able to play a bit of first grade here and even play a Test match after playing here, so it’s been a great experience and I’ve made a lot of good friends here as well.’’ While he has had a taste of Super League, John said he is hoping to continue his career in the NRL. 

‘‘I’ve played in England before and it wasn’t the best experience for me at the time,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve grown up a lot since then, but if I can get an opportunity in the NRL, I’ll definitely be staying here.’’

This story Isaac John looks to make the most of his final days as a Panther first appeared on Penrith City Gazette.