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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 06:53 GMT
Penny ready to weave more magic
By Phil Harlow & Phil Gordos

Warrington winger Kevin Penny (photo courtesy of Warrington Wolves)
Players like myself, Jason Robinson and Kevin Penny don't come around every day

Rugby league legend Martin Offiah on Penny's potential
Kevin Penny hopes to have a few "tricks up his sleeve" as he looks to bamboozle opposition defences again this season.

The ultra-quick Warrington winger, 20, is a marked man in 2008 after scoring 12 league tries in 2007 to earn a place in Super League's Dream Team.

But he told BBC Sport: "Some people think taking people on the outside is all I can do, but hopefully I can show them that there's more to my game.

"I want to have a few tricks up my sleeve and I have been working hard."

Penny is rated as one of the most exciting young talents in the country, with his electric speed earning him comparisons with Martin Offiah.

The Wigan legend is a fan of Penny himself and hopes the youngster can continue his meteoric rise.

"It has been a while since I'd seen a player with genuine pace," Offiah told BBC Sport.

"I saw him score a try against St Helens in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals last year. Not many people can beat Paul Wellens for pace the way he did."

But Offiah also had some words of warning for his fellow speedster.

Matt is one of the best centres in the world... I feel like I've learnt loads off him in a few days of training

Kevin Penny

"To have the ability is one thing. For him to go on now and build a career, expand his game and score tries will be hard," said the 41-year-old.

"His coach, Paul Cullen, is going to have to manage him well. Once everyone knows you, it takes a lot of dedication to become a great player."

Penny agreed with Offiah's assessment, but said he was not worried about living up to his star billing.

"Second-season syndrome isn't really something that worries me too much," he said.

"I just look at it as a challenge. You have got to study the game as you go along. That's one of the lessons I learned."

Second season or not, Penny should see plenty of ball in 2008. The signing of highly-rated Australian Matt King will give him the opportunity to play outside one of the sport's leading lights.

Warrington centre Matt King
Matt King will add real quality to Warrington's backline

"Matt is one of the best centres in the world," said Penny.

"I feel like I have learnt loads off him in a few days of training, so what we could be able to achieve in a few months of playing together could be amazing.

"I feel like we are on the same wavelength. He has told me what he expects from me and vice-versa, so that has laid the foundations."

When you listen to Penny talking about his amazing rise to prominence, you almost wonder why every player doesn't follow his example.

"It was just one thing after another," he said. "One minute I was in the academy team.

"Then I made my first-team debut and scored a few tries and got compared to some absolute legends. Then I got called up into the Great Britain squad.

"It's quite amazing because everything happened so fast. I definitely surprised myself with how well it went. But sport is all about taking your chances, and I believe I did that."

Penny was a relatively late convert to rugby league after spending much of his youth playing basketball, which is a sport he still loves.

"I try to watch as much NBA on TV as possible and I go over to my Nan's to watch the college basketball as well," said Penny.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is one of basketball's all-time greats

"Michael Jordan was my hero when I was growing up. I've got loads of DVDs of him in his prime and I am always watching them. He was awesome.

"I do occasionally miss playing basketball, but I don't regret my decision to pick rugby league."

Penny enjoyed a taste of the international scene with a call-up to Britain's training squad for their 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand, but Lions coach Tony Smith ultimately decided that the Test scene was a step too far.

Nevertheless, Penny has set his sights on a place in England's squad for the World Cup at the end of the season.

"The World Cup is massive motivation for me," he said. "I was disappointed to be left out against New Zealand, but Tony had his reasons for not picking me and I respect his decision.

"We had a good chat and he explained what I need to do to achieve my goal of being in the World Cup squad. Being left out has made me even more motivated.

"It was an eye-opener in terms of the standard required. Good performances will get me back there, but it's producing those week-in, week-out that will really take me on a level."

And Offiah is urging fans to savour Penny while they can.

"Players like myself, Jason Robinson and Kevin Penny don't come around every day, so you should enjoy them while they're there," he said.



SEE ALSO
Teenager Penny makes Dream Team
17 Sep 07 |  Rugby League
Penny extends Warrington contract
18 Jul 07 |  Warrington
St Helens 25-14 Warrington
09 Jun 07 |  Rugby League


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