Panthers Chase down Mason's signature for season 2013
By SAM DEBENHAM
AFTER a dismal finish to the 2012 season, Bathurst Panthers have announced the first major signing in their attempt to climb back to the top of Group 10 premier league and he brings a big name with him.
Chase Mason may not carry the rugby league reputation of his namesake Willie, but he does bring a lot of top flight pedigree and he could go a long way to solving some of Panthers’ back line woes next season.
The club announced the signing of the 24-year-old Port Macquarie native this week and club president Dennis Comerford is delighted to be welcoming an ex-Wests Tigers lower grader to the playing group.
“We have been looking at a few players for a while and had a look at what he’s done in his career so far,” Comerford said.
“We sat down and spoke to him, he was keen to give footy a go in the country somewhere. He’s got a lot of pedigree, he’s got the achievements to back that up and based on what he’s done in the past, we think he is going to be a very handy recruit.”
Mason was recruited to the Tigers in 2005 and played junior representative football as well as lower grades for Wests before beginning a stint in the Jim Beam Cup with Asquith.
From there he joined North Sydney in the NSW Cup before heading to Tamworth in 2009 to play with the Lions. During that time he was selected for a NSW Country team which defeated a Sydney-based Jim Beam Cup squad, but he eventually returned to Sydney and played with Wentworthville for another season.
He added overseas experience to his resume with a stint for the Philadelphia Fight in the United States competition earlier this year, racking up a huge amount of points – over 80 in his first three matches – until returning to finish the season with Wests in this season’s NSW Cup.
His utility value is huge, having covered most back line positions as well as lock, second row and occasionally at prop in the past.
Panthers coach John Fearnley has expressed repeatedly that he thinks his squad has the forward pack to compete with anyone provided they can get some better structure in their halves.
With a lot of experience at five-eighth Mason could be the answer, though Comerford says nothing is set in stone.
“I think centre or fullback would probably be his preferred position, but he has played five-eighth,” Comerford said.
“We haven’t finished recruiting, we are looking at a few more options in the next few months, but we’ll just wait and see.”
Mason joins former Panther Ben McAlpine, who will spend 2013 with his other former club Orange CYMS as a high-profile recruit to Group 10 for what looks like a bumper 2013 season with Blayney and Blackheath both set to join premier league.