Panthers fans breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday afternoon after it was finally confirmed rookie backrower Corey Harawira-Naera had re-signed with the club until the end of the 2020 season.
The 22-year-old forward was in hot demand on the NRL player market with a number of rival clubs desperate for his services.
However, following a strong start to the year, which resulted in six tries from 10 appearances, Harawira-Naera knew where his future was.
“I’m so happy and relieved to have re-signed with the Panthers as I never wanted to go anywhere else,” Harawira-Naera said.
“In terms of my development as a player, and even as a person, I know this is the right club for me.”
Harawira-Naera progressed through the junior grades at Penrith after relocating from New Zealand to join the club in 2013.
After winning the Holden Cup premiership in 2015 with the Panthers, Harawira-Naera made his first grade debut in Round 4 this year.
“Corey is another one of our players who has come through the Panthers development pathways to play first grade for this club,” Panthers boss, Phil Gould said.
“He was a member of our premiership-winning NYC team in 2015 and has now firmly established himself in the NRL side.
“Corey thoroughly deserves this new contract and we are delighted he will be at the Panthers for at least the next three years.
“I see a long and successful career ahead for this lad.”