NRL: Dubbo-born Penrith stars to play for local league legend Mick Wilson following his passing

When proud Dubbo boys Isaah Yeo and Matt Burton run onto their hometown Apex Oval on Sunday for Penrith against South Sydney, the pair will also be playing for the man that created the pathway to help them achieve their NRL dreams.

Respected Dubbo local Mick Wilson, who played an integral role in the founding of St John’s junior rugby league club, where Yeo and Burton started their careers, sadly passed away last week aged 77.

Wilson played three first grade games for Cronulla, two in the Sharks’ inaugural season of 1967 and one the following year.

He played 44 games in total for Cronulla.

Wilson was an outstanding contributor to the Dubbo CYMS club, where he was a life member and part of CYMS’ inaugural premiership team in 1969.

He also dedicated more than 30 years to the Country Rugby League as a life member.

Penrith’s Isaah Yeo can’t wait to honour in his uncle and play in front of his family on Sunday. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia

Wilson, who had seven children and 34 grandchildren, is Yeo’s uncle.

The Panthers co-captain says it will be a special moment to honour his much-loved family member with an NRL game on home soil.

“Mick has played a massive part for rugby league in Dubbo, whether it be coaching or cooking the BBQ, he was in it all,” Yeo said about Wilson’s impact on the St John’s club, which celebrates 50 years in 2021.

“It is never nice when you see someone so close to you pass away, but we are lucky in a sense that we are such a big family that we can all rally around one another, and that definitely happened.

“It would have been a lot nicer if he were there to watch, I’m sure he would have been there for sure.

“But to go out there and play in front of the family, especially after something like that has happened, it will be nice to see them all and have them there.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Burton also credits Wilson’s hard work on the junior league stage in Dubbo for giving him, and countless others, opportunities to achieve their goals.

The Panthers centre feels honoured to play an NRL game on home soil and is determined to put on a good performance.

“It makes you feel very proud – Mick was a loved one around the community and he has done so much for Dubbo,” Burton said.

“I know a few of his family and friends, and everyone just loves him.

“(His passing) is devastating, so it means a lot to go back out there and play, especially given what he has done for Dubbo.

“There are a lot of kids out in Dubbo that strive to be an NRL player, and that was something that I was doing when I was a kid.

“So, it is going to be great to go back out there on Sunday and see all the community out there – I just can’t wait.”

Penrith centre Matt Burton is a proud Dubbo product. Picture: Nathan Hopkins NRL PhotosSource:The Daily Telegraph

Yeo didn’t think he would play another game in Dubbo until he retired and maybe picked up a captain-coaching job in the bush.

But on Sunday, he will lead the table-topping Panthers onto Apex Oval in front of family and friends, including his grandparents who live a four-minute walk from the ground.

“I never envisaged myself going home to play an NRL game, so it is really exciting,” he said.

“I’ll be able to get a lot more family there than normal, and to play in front of them will be nice.

“Now I’m hoping to go out there and have a good performance.”

Yeo and Burton’s rise to the NRL ranks is also a credit to Penrith’s dedicated focus on development in the western region.

The Panthers have set up academies in Bathurst, Dubbo, and Forbes, while the club conducts countless junior clinics, like this week when they hosted kids from St John’s, Narromine, Nyngan, Wellington and Gilgandra.

Yeo believes Penrith’s strong placement in regional NSW is setting a powerful precedent for the future.

“That is probably what makes me the proudest about this club is the way that they’ve gone into the country and given those players more of an opportunity,” he said.

“Whereas when I first came in, it was a lot harder to get recognised or get an opportunity.

“But now if you are in those rep teams out there, you are giving yourself a chance straight away.

“The Panthers are doing a wonderful job there and it is showing on the field.

“It is quite a footy nursery in Dubbo, and I think that goes through all the juniors there and how much they all love football.”


Don Parish

Russell Richardson

Steve Merritt

Mark Soden

Dean Pay

David Peachey

David Peachey, a favourite son of Dubbo.Source:News Limited

Luke Priddis

Les Davidson

Isaah Yeo

Matt Burton

Colin Parkes

Daniel Conn

Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan, a Dubbo and Bulldogs legend.Source:News Limited

Mick Wilson

Bernard Wilson

Kel Brown

David Grant

And many more …

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