Penrith are confident of locking in three big re-signings within the next week after freeing up cash with the release of Dean Whare from the final year of his NRL deal.
The 31-year-old centre has signed a big contract with Catalans in the Super League which is set to be ratified in the coming days.
His release has freed up room in the Panthers’ salary cap to seal a deal with star centre Stephen Crichton. The club are also confident of locking in Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo over the next week or so.
All three off-contract stars were part of the NSW Blues Origin squad at the end of 2020 and are hot on the NRL market after their breakout seasons last year.
Re-signing the trio would be a huge boost for the NRL grand finalists before the start of the season as they look to maintain the core of the group that won 17 games on the way to last year’s decider.
On Sunday the Panthers also released Daine Laurie to Wests Tigers in exchange for Paul Momirovski.
It is understood the Tigers are paying the majority of Momirovski’s two-year deal as part of the swap arrangement.
Whare signed a five-year deal with the Panthers back in 2017 but only played eight games for the side last year.
His release brings to an end an eight-year stint at the club for the former New Zealand international.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on the Super League for a while and when the opportunity came up at Catalans, my family and I knew we had to take it,” Whare said.
“After spending so many years calling Penrith home, there’s still a lot of emotions about moving on.
“This club has come a long way since I first arrived. I feel a sense of pride knowing I’ve been part of that journey.”