The Panthers are a game away from an 18th straight win and first Premier League since 2003, but attention has already turned to keeping the roster together for a dynasty.
Penrith stars Jarome Luai, Isaah Yeo, Josh Mansour, Stephen Crichton, Matt Burton and Spencer Leniu are set to officially become free agents on November 1st.
While the Panthers believe in their advances in bonding, history has shown that keeping the grand finals and especially the squads winning the Premier League together is difficult at best.
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The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Panthers suspended contract negotiations until after the season so Ivan Cleary’s men could focus on the biggest game of their lives.
Hopeful blues player Stephen Crichton is believed to be the first signing after the grand finale, but with no recruits coming next season, CEO Bryan Fletcher is confident of keeping the team together for the long term.
“Nothing will change next year and why can’t it stay that way for the next five years?” Said Fletcher.
“You would never say you are going to win a competition, but look at all their ages.
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“We signed the coach, the leading player [Nathan Cleary] signed … the system works and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“Would you rather play here for the next four or five years, take a few dollars off and play on a winning side or go somewhere else?”
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However, Luai and Crichton in particular will have the highest dollar after the breakout seasons from the two-star Panthers backs.
The club cleared Jack Hetherington for the Bulldogs and Caleb Aekins for the Raiders, but kept winger Charlie Staines.
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Luai told Triple M that he “wanted to be a panther for life,” but the 23-year-old will expect a huge raise on his next contract, especially if the Panthers win the grand finale.
Nathan Cleary charges a million dollars a season, and re-signing Crichton, Mansour, and another blues hope, Isaah Yeo, doesn’t come cheap.
The Panthers are a close-knit squad with many stars who have played together since they were juniors. So you have a good chance of all sticking together.
However, history shows that the salary cap can quickly disband large final teams, especially when large offers of money from rival clubs prove to be good to be turned down.
Time will tell if Penrith can turn her 2020 fairy tale into a dynasty.
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