Penrith star Nathan Cleary is hoping to convince the core of the clubs young guns to commit to the club in hopes of turning into a dynasty club, with Stephen Crichton a main focus, per The Daily Telegraph.
Cleary dreams of leading the Panthers down a long road of success in similar fashion to the recent dominance of the Storm and Roosters, knowing the club’s most promising talent mustn’t be tempted by lucrative offers elsewhere and commit to the cause.
The Panthers have already told veteran Josh Mansour to find a new club for next season and Penrith look to go one better in 2021.
Cleary is set to be ‘in the ear’ of Crichton and Jarome Luai within the NSW Blues camp across the next three weeks, hoping to convince them to stay a Panther.
“You have to find a core group who can grow old together,” Cleary said after Blues training on Monday.
“And obviously with the success we’ve had this year, it’s the hardest part because you can’t keep everyone.
“It’s the same at the Roosters, who have kept the nucleus of their team together for a few years now.
“The young guys have to want to grow old together.”
Speaking on Crichton, Cleary said he’ll do whatever it takes to convince him to sign on.
“Obviously we’d love to keep Critter because he’s an absolute gun,” he said.
“And I’m going to be in his ear this whole Origin camp telling him to stay.
“This is the first time Critter has had to deal with this and I’m sure he’ll be fine.
“(Laughs) I’ll just give him a nudge here and there.
“At the end of the day the decision is up to him, but everyone would love to have him stay at Penrith for sure.”
Cleary said he understands the position Burton has been placed in and the difficulty of cementing a place in the side.
“It becomes hard because Matty is a great player and obviously thinks he is ready for first grade,” Cleary said.
“So you don’t want to lose great players like that.
“I also think he can force his way into the team, even if it’s in a different position.
“And there are that many injuries in a year he will probably end up getting a crack in the halves. We’d love for Matty to stay but again it’s up to him.”
Cleary said it was disappointing to hear of the departure of Mansour.
“You never like losing anyone, and I love Sauce,” he said.
“I think he’s scored six tries in 120 minutes of footy, so he is obviously a footballer,” Cleary said of the Forbes product.
“He’s super quick, his footy instincts are really good — he’s just scratching the surface at the moment.
“He needs to sort out his body. He’s still growing into it and had a few injuries but the sky is the limit with him. I’m super excited to see what he can do.”