He has been touted as the next superstar of the Penrith Panthers, but Jesse McLean's journey nearly saw him take a different path to another sport.

Limited in his opportunities at first-grade level at the moment (playing two games in two seasons), McLean is set to be handed the keys to Sunia Turuva's vacant wing spot next season as the Fijian international makes his way to the Wests Tigers.

An Australian Schoolboy and co-captain of the 2024 U19s NSW Blues team, the Panthers have so much faith in McLean's ability and talent that they have already locked him and his brother Casey McLean up for a further four years until the end of 2028.

However, as he slowly rose through Penrith's junior ranks, he also progressed at an elite level in rugby union. This saw him selected in the NSW Waratahs Gen Blue team at the U14s and U15s levels while also regularly featuring for Newington College's 15-man side.

"I was sort of open with both," McLean told Zero Tackle.

"I was playing rugby, playing league and sort of just playing in all different rep sides but when it comes down to Year 12, league's where my heart was at.

"My old man played in the NRL so it was good to follow that on.

"The big dream for both of us [Jesse and Casey McLean] is winning a premiership together and I feel like we can do it at Penrith and just got to buy our time and time will come soon."

NSWRL-NSW U 19's SOO Men and Women. Picture: NRL Photos/Gregg Porteous

When asked who helped him the most during his time training and playing with the Panthers' first-grade team, McLean acknowledged Brian To'o and Dylan Edwards as the two players who have helped him develop and enhance his skills the most.

"They've been a big help for me and my journey to NRL, especially Dyl [Dylan Edwards] and Biz [Brian To'o]," he added.

"They've helped me along the way (and) sort of kept me cool when I've been a bit red and they've really helped me so I appreciate them."

To'o, who is likely to create a lethal combination with McLean next season, spoke to this publication about what fans and viewers can expect from the brothers in the future.

"Jesse is a space cadet. He doesn't know his left or rights," To'o joked to Zero Tackle.

"Those guys are definitely leading by example. They're still so young and they definitely show their potential not only on the field but also off the field.

"(They've) got great character and can't wait to see them play their footy and can't wait to see them showcase their skills."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Tyrone Peachey of the Panthers celebrates Waqa Blake scoring a try during the NRL Semi Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

When Jesse McLean made his debut last season, he became a second-generation NRL player, following in the footsteps of his father, Willie McLean, who played a handful of games for the North Sydney Bears during the 1990s.

As he continues his father's legacy, the future star winger revealed that Tyrone Peachey has been one of the biggest role models in his life and can't thank him enough for all his help.

This season would mark the last time Peachey and McLean could possibly play and win a premiership together as the ex-NSW Blues representative confirmed he will hang up the boots at the end of the 2024 season.

"Me and Case didn't really watch much footy, we just played heaps of footy and stuff but one person I'll probably bring it down to at the end when it's all said and done is Tyrone Peachey," McLean added when asked on the players he looked up to and idolised.

"He's probably been one of the biggest role models for me and been a big mentor for my life and he would be at my wedding one day.

"He handed me my debut jersey so I can't thank him enough and he's like a brother to me."