Ivan Cleary, the Penrith coach insists that standout five-eighth, Jarome Luai “fits” into the Panthers lineup. He firmly believes that the club’s significant contract extension for fullback Dylan Edwards will not interfere with their capacity to retain the star player.
Luai, due to a shoulder injury, is set to miss this weekend’s game against the Cowboys that could clich the minor premiership for the Panthers. Next season, Luai enters into the final term of his contract with many financially stong competitors vying for him.
The Panthers, this week, secured their ace fullback Edwards with a four-year contract extension. The agreement, estimated to be worth around $850,000 per year, ensures his place at the club longer than any of his league-winning peers.
Cleary, however, is resolute that the significant salary increase for Edwards does not influence the ability of the club to retain Luai and compensate him “his worth”.
“That is our belief,” Cleary stated. “Every negotiation is tough as the stakes increase, and they have family conditions to consider.”
“However, we’re confident that we can afford Romey his worth. We believe that just like Dylan, he is a Panther at heart. He knows he fits here and so do we.”
After Melbourne’s victory over Brisbane on Thursday night, the road has been paved for Penrith to clinch another minor premiership and ensure the top ranking ahead of the finals.
While the Storm and Broncos opted to rest numerous key players for the final-round faceoff, the Panthers have rested their main players at different times throughout the past month to prepare for the finals.
However, he also stated it would not affect their game strategy, with the finals in clear sight.
“The potential of clinching the minor premiership is quite exciting,” Cleary expressed.
“It’s a source of pride to finish at the top. I don’t like shifting the plans midway through a week. Our approach remains unchanged.”