Penrith’s worst kept secret has finally been confirmed with halfback Luke Walsh to leave the club at the end of the season.
Walsh has been granted an early release from his contract to join English Super League club St Helens from 2014, ending a five-year stint at the Panthers.
The 26-year-old’s future at the Panthers has been in doubt for some time with the club making it clear that it wanted a new halves combination moving forward. Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward has already signed with Penrith and the club chased Todd Carney and Johnathan Thurston, only to narrowly miss out on their signatures.
With renewed speculation in recent weeks that the club is again chasing a new half – this time local junior and current Broncos star Peter Wallace – the writing was on the wall for Walsh.
Panthers General Manager of Rugby League, Phil Moss, paid tribute to Walsh when announcing his departure today.
“Luke has made a wonderful contribution to the Panthers and will always be a highly valued member of our club,” he said.
“We wish Luke and his family all the best as they start their new life in England.”
Often criticised for not taking the line on and a lack of creativity, Walsh will best be remembered for a breakthrough 2010 season, in which his kicking game helped Penrith finish the regular season in second spot.
Ironically, Walsh has been in career-best form over the past month.
Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown said Walsh was an exciting addition to his team.
“He is a good organiser and possesses a great kicking game too,” he said.
“We are always looking to improve the team and I’m sure Luke will contribute to that. We are looking forward to having him on board.”