After it was confirmed on Wednesday that James Fisher-Harris has been granted a release from the final two seasons of his contract at the Penrith Panthers, the club are already eyeing a possible replacement.

A vital member of the club's forward pack in their three consecutive NRL premierships and 2023 Golden Boot winner, Fisher-Harris was granted permission to return home to New Zealand on compassionate grounds.

While, he will join the New Zealand Warriors on a four-year contract beginning at the start of next season, the Panthers are aiming to look for a replacement to fill his shoes.

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the Panthers have already expressed an interest in Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu, per sources speaking to the publication.

Utoikamanu is contracted at the Wests Tigers for the remainder of the season and has a mutual option in his contract for the following season.

However, the prop could become a free agent at the end of the season due to an unusual clause.

If he doesn't play in at least two State of Origin matches this year or the Wests Tigers fail to make the finals, Utoikamanu will become a free agent.

Making his Origin debut last year for the NSW Blues, Utoikamanu has taken his game to another level this season and played a huge role in the club's two victories this season.

Although he may be destined to be a future captain of the Wests Tigers the lure of joining the Panthers may be too much for the young forward.

“I'm trying to focus on making the top eight, that's what I want to do – I want to stay at the Tigers,” Utoikamanu told The Sydney Morning Herald, earlier this year in regards to his future.

“I've loved every minute I've been here. They've given me my big opportunity to become the player I am now.

“I want to give back to the club. We'll see what happens. I haven't listened [to speculation]. Benji is big on ‘team first', and putting others before yourself, so that's what I'm trying to do.”