Penrith Panthers' Grand Final win was extra special for one young Blue Mountains rugby league fan who has had to go without playing the game he loves throughout the second half of the 2021 season.
Flynn Duffy is six years old and lives in Valley Heights. As a player with Lower Blue Mountains Junior Rugby League Club, he was recently given a special limited-edition Panthers jersey by the triumphant NRL club. The presentation of the jersey to Flynn, and many other youngsters, was supposed to be part of a gala day in early September before a Panthers game at BlueBet Stadium, celebrating the under-6 players in the club's catchment area.
Unfortunately, because of lockdown the event never took place. However, Flynn received his custom-made jersey in the post, softening the blow of having no footy to play in recent months.
"The idea behind it was an event for under-6 players to honour the jersey," says Flynn's mother Alexandra Duffy, "but it wasn't hyped as it should have been because the game didn't happen."
The special garment is the Penrith Panthers jersey with the player's own club logo on it - in Flynn's case Lower Blue Mountains Rugby League Club. Having the jersey, and watching Penrith win the Grand Final, have been exciting for Flynn and his family, but they can't take the place of the real thing. Flynn's participation in junior rugby league, in his first year of playing, was sadly curtailed due to the lockdown that began in late June.
"For my son it's been difficult," said Mrs Duffy. "He'd been doing really well, he loves it and had always wanted to play, and he's really struggled not being able to.
"My girls are dancing and they've been able to continue to do that on Zoom, and it upsets him that he can't play rugby league on Zoom. He's gutted to not be able to complete the season."
However, Flynn is signed up to play touch football with the Lower Blue Mountains Touch Association over the summer - a summer that will be a celebratory one for Flynn and fellow Panthers fans.
"This kid only ever wears Panthers clothes," said Mrs Duffy. "He's addicted. Everything is football for this little boy."