Representative winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak could be granted an immediate release by the Penrith Panthers after being given permission to negotiate with other clubs.
It is the latest twist in a dramatic season for the Panthers that has attracted headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The 23-year-old is not off contract until the end of next season but has been linked with Parramatta in recent weeks.
There has also been speculation that the Rabbitohs and Cowboys have expressed interest in his services. Watene-Zelezniak would be unlikely to leave Sydney.
While initial speculation over Watene-Zelezniak’s future emerged several weeks ago, it was fuelled this week when the Kiwi Test captain was not named to play Parramatta tomorrow night. He also hasn’t been named in reserve grade.
Late today, Penrith issued a statement confirming Watene-Zelezniak was granted permission to talk to other clubs.
“Earlier this week, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s management sought permission from Panthers to speak with other NRL clubs regarding Dallin’s immediate and future playing career,” the statement said.
“This permission was granted following discussions by the club’s retention and recruitment committee. Out of respect for all parties, the club will be making no further comment at this time.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary refused to discuss the matter when it was raised with him earlier today.
“I don’t want to discuss selection. I don’t think it’s fair on anyone,” he said.
“Clearly we are looking for change. A lot of people here including myself are not performing well enough.”
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.