Departing Penrith back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera has spoken about his decision of joining the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on a four year deal from 2019.
The 23-year-old stunned Penrith teammates and general manager Phil Gould when he decided to pull the plug on his contract with the Panthers.
Requesting a release from his final year of his contract, Harawira-Naera will step out of his comfort zone by connecting with the Belmore club for 2019 season and beyond.
After being linked to Cronulla and Wests Tigers last year, Harawira-Naera stayed loyal to the Panthers by extending his contract with them until 2019, to then only this year ask for a release.
Harawira-Naera reveals his decision to leave the club was partly based on the form of Viliame Kikau but states it’ll be difficult moving further away from his young son and former partner.
“I’ve been here for five years so I am attached to the place,” Harawira-Naera told NRL.com.au.
“The process happened quickly, I would’ve rather it at the end of the season to have time to think about it.
“But moving forward I knew that they locked in Viliame and Isaah Yeo in the back-row. I was coming off the bench and didn’t mind the role but having an opportunity like that pop up, it’s hard to turn down.
“I got a lot of advice from people at the club – Ciro (coach Cameron Ciraldo), (Welfare and Education Manager) Shane Elford and Gus (Gould) – he was surprised, a lot of people were. He (Gould) gave me good advice and he’s been around for ages.”
It’s understood the offer made by the Dogs was too good to pass up and allows Harawira-Naera a chance to lock down a starting position.
Harawira-Naera says he feels like he is due for a change in his life.
“Five years is a long time at one club, probably a little bit of complacency has crept in,” Harawira-Naera said.
“I’m not saying it has completely happened, but it can, just rolling into work. I think it’s a good change in a way and I’ll be taking on a leadership role over there (Bulldogs) which is different for me.”
For Harawira-Naera now, he sets his sights on a career-high Preliminary Final should Penrith topple Cronulla this weekend.
Harawira-Naera also admitted the thought of last week’s game being his last for Penrith took a toll.
“There’s a lot of mental going on in my head, even Ciro pulled me aside and said ‘just play well, you don’t want this to be your last game for the club’,” he said.
“I guess he’ll keep that theme for as long as we do go on. This is a massive week for us, it doesn’t matter how they turn up, it’s how we turn up.
“I don’t know what it is but in the last three to five years Cronulla have been our bogey team. Every time we play them, we haven’t got a win against them in a long time.
“It’s a good time to do it and break the hoodoo.”