Jack Hetherington looks for right balance

RARE CHANCE: Young junior Jack Hetherington making a tackle in Penrith's round one win over the Roosters. Picture: Robb Cox/NRL Photos
RARE CHANCE: Young junior Jack Hetherington making a tackle in Penrith's round one win over the Roosters. Picture: Robb Cox/NRL Photos

The coronavirus crisis is just another hurdle for Jack Hetherington to overcome.

The Young product is looking to make 2020 the season he plays consistently in the NRL.

Hetherington has played 16 games since making his debut for Penrith in round seven of the 2018 season.

A sternum problem wreaked havoc last season but another issue raised it heads again to start the season - suspension.

Hetherington came off the bench in the Panthers' round one win over the Roosters but couldn't play in their win over St George Illawarra after copping a two-game ban for a high shot on James Tedesco.

It's his fourth suspension since his debut.

While known for his aggressive approach, it's one thing the 23-year-old is looking to control in order to play more.

"It's just one of those things with the carryover points," Hetherington said.

"It started in the under 20s and as I had so many, and my style of play I like to aggressive, but it is one of those things. Your guess is as good mine but I have to relax a little bit."

FLASHBACK: Jack Hetherington playing for Young in 2014.

FLASHBACK: Jack Hetherington playing for Young in 2014.

Hetherington is the third generation of his family to play in the top grade.

His grandfather Bill Mullins is an Easts legend who son is former Canberra flyer Brett Mullins.

His father Brett Hetherington also played 142 games for the Raiders and North Queensland.

They provide plenty of support.

"The game has obviously changed a lot since they played but at the end of the day they tell me to run hard, tackle hard and do my job as best I can," Hetherington said.

Now he's focusing on keeping fit as the NRL eyes a May 28 return.

He won't line up in Penrith's next clash due to suspension but Hetherington is working to ensure he can earn his place back in the side.

"I was really excited for a big year," he said.

"My debut year I felt like I was playing some pretty good footy and I wanted to get back to that to try and make the starting side.

"The main goal is to make the 17 and once you've made you want to do what is best for the team but the starting 13 would be great."

Now he is looking for ways to keep his fitness up with the NRL eyeing a May 28 return.

"It's weird but I'm trying to train and stay the same as possible," Hetherington said.

"I'm not in my routine so it is a bit bizarre but what can you do?"

Jack Hetherington playing for Penrith last season.

Jack Hetherington playing for Penrith last season.

Hetherington is also using the down time to spend more time with his family, including those still in Young.

No matter his location, the 23-year-old is looking to keep doing what he would be with his Panthers teammates.

"I'm trying to stick to a routine as best as you can - train, give yourself time to eat and keep it as similar as what you would do at training," he said.

"This morning I got up and went for a run, had a feed and then I'll go lift some weights.

"I'm making the most of it to see some family too."

After making his NRL debut with the club in 2018, the 23-year-old has been plagued with injury and suspension.

However Hetherington is contracted with the Panthers until the end of the 2021 season and with all NRL players having their pay cut due to the COVID-19 crisis he admitted there was some relief he isn't playing for a new deal this season.

"I would be a lot more stressed out if I was off-contact this year," he said.

"I consider myself pretty lucky really."