Outgoing Panthers star Lachlan Coote knew the writing was on the wall when he got injured earlier this season and the club starting signing new halves.
The 23-year-old fullback turned five-eighth was this week released by the Panthers club from the final year of his contract to join the North Queensland Cowboys on a three-year deal.
Speaking with The Western Weekender, Coote said it was sad to be a leaving the club he made his debut at as a skinny fresh-faced 18-year-old in 2008.
“I am a little disappointed but that’s footy these days, everyone moves on every now and then,” he said.
“I’m happy what I’ve done here. It’s been a great club for me and I love the fans, I have a lot of respect for them.”
Coote’s career at the Panthers has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. Riddled with injury over the past six years, Coote will only play 83 games in Panthers colours after his final appearance against Manly on Sunday.
Towards the back end of the 2012 season, Coote made the switch from his comfortable position of fullback to the important role of five-eighth to show off his long kicking game and ball playing ability. He was seen as Penrith’s saviour in the halves until Round 2 this year when he went down with a near season-ending pectoral injury.
Coote, however, made a remarkable recovery and returned a month ago during Penrith’s big loss to the Cowboys. However, Coote’s time on the sidelines saw the rise of another local junior at fullback, Matt Moylan, plus the emergence of Isaac John at five-eighth and with the 2014 signings of Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, it seemed Coote’s days at Penrith were numbered.
“It was disappointing to get injured at the start of the year… I had two years left on my contract at the start of the year and I was keen to play five-eighth, a new position a new experience,” he said.
“I spoke to Ivan during the year and things happen, clubs sign different people.”
Coote regarded his debut in 2008 and the club’s outstanding season in 2010, where Coote made a name for himself, as the highlights of his young career but he’s certainly looking forward to the next chapter in his life playing alongside Johnathan Thurston at the Cowboys.
“That’s what I’m most excited about, the Cowboys have international players and it’s going to be a great experience playing with them,” Coote said.
“I chose the Cowboys because they had the most interest in me, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be leaving but I’m glad they came through with a three-year deal. It’s great knowing I have a bit of safety there and I’m looking forward to the change in weather.”
After wishing for a long career at five-eighth its presumed Coote will now go back to his more familiar role of fullback at the Cowboys replacing retiring star Matt Bowen.
“Things change, obviously they’ve got their halves combination set up there and Matt Bowen is retiring… it doesn’t bother me as long as I’m playing first grade,” he said.