Panthers Sign Up Young Talent

Penrith boosted its ranks for the 2004 National Rugby League season with the signing of four promising youngsters.

The new signings are front-rowers Jason Wrigley and Aaron Sweeney, centre Luke Cross and hooker Paul Aiton.

"It's all part of the process of building for the future," Penrith chief executive Shane Richardson said.

"These are all players who have shown promise at a lower level than first grade and they join us in the second tier."

Wrigley, 23, is a big Kiwi who has played for Brisbane Easts and Brisbane Norths and represented New Zealand in under-18s and secondary schools sides.

Sweeney, 19, was in the Wests SG Ball side that won the competition last year.

He signed for Souths this season but was transferred to Newtown where he has been playing in the Premier League.

He joins Penrith on a one year contract.

Cross, 21, has been playing for the North Queensland Young Guns in the Queensland Cup.

He represented Queensland Residents this year and twice has been a member of the Australian under-19s rugby union side, captaining the team in his second year.

Aiton, 18, was born in Papua New Guinea and came to Australia when he was five.

"I was playing rugby league before I could speak English," he joked.

He is currently playing for Wests Panthers in Brisbane and has represented Queensland at under-17 and under-19 level.