Penrith is set to produce a stunning signing coup by luring Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney away from the Shire.
Rumours about Carney joining the Panthers next season intensified this afternoon, with speculation the New South Wales Origin star could sign a deal by the end of the week.
Rugby League Week’s ‘The Mole’ broke the story, and told Triple M tonight that he feels the Panthers may have their man.
“What I can tell you for sure is that it’s getting very close,” he said.
“I think it’ll all be settled in the next 48 hours and it is now down to Penrith and Cronulla.
“The indications I’m getting are that he is heading to the Panthers.”
Sources say that Carney had all but decided to stay at Cronulla and was prepared to put pen to paper until an eleventh hour “godfather” offer from the Panthers.
Cash is not the issue for Penrith with the club earlier this year launching an audacious big-money bid for Johnathan Thurston. They are also expected to farewell the hefty contracts of Kevin Kingston and Nathan Smith at the end of the season.
The Panthers are primarily fighting the issue of loyalty, with the Sharks being the club that threw Carney a lifeline when he was at his lowest, destructive point at the Roosters.
This afternoon, Penrith said they had not signed Carney.
“Todd Carney has not signed with the Panthers,” a spokesperson said.
“Beyond that we have no comment on our recruitment and retention strategies.”
Journalist Paul Kent told NRL 360 tonight that it “makes sense” that the Panthers would offer a massive deal to Carney, as the club has plenty of money and is searching for a half to partner Jamie Soward next season.
It is understood Soward will play halfback at Penrith next season, allowing Carney to play five-eighth or, should he not sign, Lachlan Coote to return to the number six jumper.
Halfback Luke Walsh is expected to join English club St Helens, but the club is yet to confirm his release.