So, star Penrith Panthers winger Brian To'o was photographed in a Canterbury Bulldogs jersey to ring in the New Year.

Social media - and as a result other sections of the media - lit up on New Year's Day when it surfaced that To'o had been snapped in a Canterbury Bulldogs jersey, with the image then uploaded to social media.

I don't think I'm the only rugby league fan who shares the opinion of "who cares?" though.

It's as simple as that really.

Some in the media have suggested it's a case of puzzling decisions and bad optics. One even wrote To'o may be forced by the Panthers to apologise to the club's fans.

That was the fate which met Daine Laurie a couple of years ago when, as a Tigers player, he donned a Penrith jersey to celebrate a premiership for his junior club, and the team he supported as a child.

But again, who actually cares?

The players are in the midst of the off-season, and fans really must have the wool pulled over their eyes if they believe players don't have a soft spot for clubs other than the ones they play for in the competition.

Like you and me, players once grew up as fans of this sport. The difference is they went on to play, often not for the club they supported growing up. Fans though, well, we wind up supporting the same club for our entire lives and demanding nothing less than that of players who wear the jersey of the club we celebrate and cry for.

And that's fair enough during the season too. Anything less than 100 per cent dedication to the cause which fans throw their hard-earned money into is not going to be good enough, either in the eyes of the fans, or club administrators who pay these players hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

But again, anyone who believes players may not have a soft spot for other clubs is living in an absolute fantasy world.

In a world without social media - a utopian one which we don't live in and haven't for some years, but one worth discussing nonetheless - To'o wearing that jersey would never have made it outside his personal circle.

And it's not exactly as if To'o can have his professionalism or dedication to the Panthers questioned on the field.

He has been among the competition's best wingers for a number of years now. A State of Origin player and one of the first picked for the Blues, you could argue that the star is actually among Penrith's most important players and has been for all of their three-premiership, four-grand final run.

No winger in the competition has been as consistent at making metres from the back of the park as To'o has been, and his level of play has made an enormous difference on Ivan Cleary's side.

And you don't have to look for examples to realise he bleeds for Penrith - he loves playing alongside his teamates, he loves playing for the area and has already re-signed on a long-term deal with the club for likely less money than he could have received elsewhere given the status he holds among the NRL's wingers.

Like when Laurie wore the wrong jersey to celebrate that premiership on a raucous evening at the foot of the mountains, To'o may well have his own reasons for doing so.

Not the least of which is that a number of Penrith players have joined the Bulldogs. Matt Burton, Viliame Kikau, and a great mate of the winger in Stephen Crichton who joins for the 2024 season.

So what if he decided to support his mates during his own personal time on New Year's Eve?

Again, I ask, who actually cares?

I'd be stunned if the answer is anything more than a few disgruntled sections of the media looking for a story.