I had to laugh when I saw a headline on Triple M’s website last week which read ‘Salary Cap Pressure Set To Dismantle The Penrith Panthers’.
The Australian’s Brent Read spoke on The Rush Hour about how Penrith could lose several key players next season due to salary cap pressure.
I’m sure Read had nothing to do with the sensational headline but the truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s look at some facts first.
Fact: The Panthers have tied up the following 10 players to long-term contracts past 2022. They are; Nathan Cleary (2024), Isaah Yeo (2024), James Fisher-Harris (reportedly agreed to re-sign until 2026), Jarome Luai (2023), Brian To’o (2023), Stephen Crichton (2023), Spencer Lenui (2023), Liam Martin (2023), Charlie Staines (2023) and Izack Tago (2023).
Fact: They’ve locked up their Origin halves pairing, the best prop in the competition, starting wingers, a gun centre, a representative second rower and one of the best young talents in the game, all beyond next year.
Fact: That’s a pretty good foundation to build on isn’t it?
Now let’s have a look at some of the main players off contract next season: Dylan Edwards, Viliame Kikau, Moses Leota, and Apisai Koroisau.
Out of those four players, Penrith will probably have enough money to sign at least two of them on decent long-term contracts. It’s true the Panthers can’t sign them all but nor would they want to.
Not all of these players will be needed beyond next year and there are so many gun juniors coming through the ranks that Penrith will risk losing the best of them, if they are not retained and given an opportunity beyond 2022.
Trust me Panthers supporters, there’s a lot of reasons to be happy and optimistic about the future, there will be no ‘dismantling’.
So please sit back, relax and let the good times roll at the foot of the Mountains.
What caught my eye last week…
The only show in town and what a show the Blues put on to completely decimate and dominate a shell-shocked Queensland side. From the first minute to the last, the Maroons tried hard but were firing blanks. It was a carve-up of Olympic-class proportions, even though at the end of 80 minutes the score was only 26-0.
My tips for the week…
Storm, Warriors, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Raiders, Cowboys, Sharks, Rabbitohs.
The final word…
The way the NRL once again rallied under the leadership of Peter V’landys to make sure that Round 16 will go ahead despite the numerous lockdowns due to COVID-19. You’ve redeemed yourself Mr V’landys.
Peter Lang is an experienced writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.