SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: Panthers assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo looks on during the round 11 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground, on May 21, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo has made a massive coup convincing UFC fighters to move to Belmore after they were aided Penrith's development into a defensive powerhouse.

The past two years have seen number three pound-for-pound middleweight Robert Whittaker and his team, along with coach Alex Prates, work with the Panthers. Their role was to coach defensive wrestling techniques.

Their help has been immense with Penrith becoming a defensive powerhouse, winning back-to-back premierships.

Team Whittaker's impact has been described by superstar Nathan Cleary as “massive”.

This acquisition does not breach the ‘no poaching' promise Ciraldo made to his old club as his relationship with the Whittaker team falls outside those agreement constraints.

Ciraldo had even spent time at Whittaker's gym to oversee sessions before linking up with him at the Panthers, per Fox Sports. 

Penrith are already prepared for the change and have filled their place with retired UFC star James Te Huna. He is highly respected as a wrestling coach and has worked with numerous NRL coaches.

His previous experience goes back a long time with his best work at Parramatta in 2009. He was employed to instil toughness into the Eels' side. His efforts would see the Parramatta Eels make the Grand Final.

These coaching recruits for both the Panthers and the Bulldogs will begin training with their respective teams in the pre-season.