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Kevin Penny is not taking his Warrington Wolves return for granted
AFTER a year that has changed the course of his life, Kevin Penny has pledged to show Warrington Wolves fans just how much he deserves a second chance.
Three years after the 25-year-old winger was released by Warrington Wolves, Penny was contemplating ending his extraordinary rugby career instead of making one last roll of the dice with semi-professional Championship club Swinton Lions.
“I never thought I would get the chance to come back,” he admitted.
“Truth be told I was close to giving up on a rugby league career before the start of the current season.
“But I thought I’d give it one last go and I wanted to do the best for my club and teammates at Swinton.
“So I knuckled down and when Tony Smith gave me a call and asked me to come back to Warrington I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down!”
Wolves’ recent U-turn on the Academy-grown player stunned almost everyone, not least because Smith was the boss who chose to let Penny go after he unsuccessfully attempted to reclaim the first-team place he had occupied under Paul Cullen.
But having watched all of Swinton’s matches Smith had spotted a change in the pacey winger, and in areas of his game for which Penny had suffered unfair criticism as a breakthrough player.
“People forget that I never played any amateur rugby league at all,” said Penny, who has signed a one-year deal with a two-year option for the 2014 season.
“When I signed for Warrington at age 16 I had only played one game of rugby in my life and it all happened so quickly that I don’t think I had the proper foundations.
“But since then I have improved the areas of my game that were weaker.
“The Championship has been my amateur foundations, I have learnt how to read the game and learned my role as a player.”
Throughout the transition years he has also been learning his role as a father and head of a family, taking up his current job as a courier in order to fill the void left by the end of his professional rugby career.
And that, in turn, has played its part in his improvement as a player, as nothing will make you appreciate the life of a professional sportsman more than 12-hour shifts in a parcel delivery van.
“You realise as soon as you drop out of the professional world just how lucky you were,” he said.
“I never took it for granted, but I don’t think you realise the amount of hours that normal people work to bring in a wage.
“I think that makes me better equipped to play Super League this time around.
“It has been difficult to get back where I am now. I have worked hard to get here but there is lots still to be done and I am looking forward to it.
“It is exciting to go back and be a part of this club, but I have a massive pre-season ahead of me and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
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