AFTER 12 inspirational seasons as a Panther versatile Luke Lewis, 29, plays his last home game at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday afternoon in his least favourite position. Spectator.
“Inside myself I’ll be very emotional,” he said.
“I probably won’t show it too much but I’m going to be devastated that I never got the opportunity to play on Penrith Park in front of a good home crowd in Penrith jerseys.
“But I hold Penrith pretty close to my heart and I’ll never forget the good times here.
“That’s all that really matters. All you take with you is the memories and I’ve got a lot of those.”
Delivering the Panthers a fairytale premiership trophy with an 18-6 victory over the Sydney Roosters on October 5, 2003, is Lewis’s fondest memory and The Road to Victory DVD, released after the side’s grand-final triumph, is a cherished souvenir of his time at the club.
Since making his first grade debut against the Melbourne Storm in round 24, 2001, the Blacktown City junior has racked up 208 games for the Panthers with 89 tries and 356 points.
He’s carved out a phenomenal career to date and said there were many former Panthers staff and players he had to credit for moulding him into the Australian and NSW representative superstar he is today.
“I owe Royce Simmons a big thank you — he gave me the opportunity to play first grade at a young age,” Lewis said.
“Johnny Lang gave me the opportunity to play my first full year of first grade and he was outstanding.
“There are also a lot of players who have played a big role — Scotty Sattler, Craig Gower, Ryan Girdler, Preston Campbell, Luke Rooney, Joel Clinton, Shane Rodney, Rhys Wesser and the list goes on.
‘‘One is Trent Waterhouse and I didn’t realise how much I’d miss him until he left.
‘‘Having Petero at the club was also a great feeling and probably the best thing for the club.
‘‘And also to meet a bloke and get a friend like that.’’
Watching Michael Jennings and Lachlan Coote become stars of the Panthers’ first grade line-up was another highlight of Lewis’s Panthers journey and he tipped big futures for the club’s current young guns Matthew Moylan, Harry Siejka and Josh Mansour.
Lewis began the 2012 season as captain but was relieved of the duties after less than three months.
His predecessor, Petero Civoniceva, left at the end of last year and voiced controversial thoughts about the Panthers’ board just prior to exiting.
Asked if there was anything he wanted to say now that he felt he couldn’t during the season, the Cronulla Sharks-bound lock replied: ‘‘The way it worked out I don’t know why but I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason — and that’s basically it.’’
As the last remaining Panther from the 2003 premiership team, Lewis is an undisputed fan favourite and he said his message to his supporters was ‘‘just a big thank you’’.
‘‘Just to all the real supporters out there, thanks for the support you’ve shown me, after everything that’s happened as well.
‘‘Good things will come for you.’’
Whether those good things are just 12 months down the track, Lewis was unsure.
‘‘It’ll be very interesting,’’ he said.
‘‘At the end of the day, you’re never guaranteed anything.
‘‘You’ve just got to turn up, train hard … and then see what happens.’
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.