Penrith are looking to make young gun Stephen Crichton a Panther for life, with the club set to offer a new deal until 2024 before aiming to extend the 19-year-old until the end of his career, per The Daily Telegraph.
Crichton is under contract for the next 12 months, with Penrith set to hold a retention committee meeting on Monday where a new offer for the NSW youngster will be fast-tracked.
“He won’t be going anywhere,” declared Panthers group chief executive Brian Fletcher.
“Our negotiations will continue to finalise a deal where we see the young kid stay here hopefully for an extension of three years and then hopefully be a Panther for life.
“When you keep the right players, you want to make sure you’ve got them long-term.
“It will be further discussed on Monday morning. It’s a matter of furthering the deal and then finalising a contract in the best interests of both parties.
“Stephen lives in the local area with Brian To’o and Jarome Luai. He will be a Panther, for sure. We have to look after the kid and we have to look after Penrith and we are confident all that will happen.”
Crichton sent some concern through the Penrith camp when he opted to switch managers, heading to Sam Ayoub last month.
While there had been interest from the Roosters and Bulldogs, Fletcher said that little had changed course for Crichton.
“Nothing has changed from Penrith’s point of view — the only thing that has changed was that the Crichton family wanted to change manager, which they have now done,” Fletcher said.
“He is only 19-years-old. You have to respect the kid and let him play a couple of years of footy before you put too much responsibility onto him. You have to be careful you don’t put the weight of the world on him and expect him to be a superstar every game — which he can’t be at that age.
“Stephen has done exceptionally well for a 19-year-old.
“You can’t do much better than what he has achieved.
“We are continuing our negotiations.”
Penrith are aiming to land a number of fellow young guns on top of the potential Crichton signing, with Matt Burton linked to Canterbury.
Fletcher revealed that discussions to extend Burton’s contract were progressing.
“It’s the same story — we are in negotiations now to extend his contract,” Fletcher said.