The Penrith Panthers have officially installed Ricky Stuart as their top priority to coach the club from next season.
The Daily Telegraph has been told that Panthers directors desperately want Stuart after Tigers coach Tim Sheens rejected their lucrative offer last week. Well-placed sources inside the Panthers’ front office say Stuart is the man to lead Penrith for the next three years.
The offer would be worth about $1.5 million. But does Stuart want to coach Penrith?
He has been recommended to the club by some heavy-hitters, one of which is said to be former Penrith premiership-winning coach Phil Gould.
The Panthers source told The Daily Telegraph: “Stuart is now our No. 1 candidate. One hundred per cent. The board was keen on Sheens but he has stayed. Ricky is now our man.”
However, one obstacle may be the financial issues at Penrith.
Gun-shy after his stint with cash-strapped Cronulla, Stuart may baulk at joining a club with limited resources.
The Daily Telegraph was unable to contact with Penrith chief executive Mick Leary yesterday.Panthers assistant coach Steve Georgallis has been mentioned as a possible Penrith coach, as have ex-Canterbury coach Steve Folkes and former North Sydney Bears hooker Tony Rea.
Folkes’ contract at Wests Tigers, where he is Sheens’ assistant, concludes after this season.
Rea will be replaced as coach of Super Rugby franchise the Brumbies at the end of this season.