Phil Gould statement on Lewis departure

Firstly, contrary to reports, never at any time prior to today have Luke or his manager Greg Willett requested a release from his current contract at Panthers which expires at the end of the 2014 season.

Secondly, contrary to reports, no one here at Panthers has ever suggested or initiated a plan to remove Luke from the club prior to the expiry of his current contract. These claims are simply untrue - perhaps misinformed - nevertheless untrue.

Finally, as a result of media reports this morning, I requested an immediate meeting with Luke Lewis and his manager in my office at 7:30am today.

At this meeting Luke has indicated he is at the stage of his career where he is feeling stale and as such is looking for a new outlook and challenge in his life.

Luke feels as though he has given the Panthers all he can, but at this stage of his career he feels he needs a change of environment to achieve his goals.

Luke has requested the club give consideration to releasing him from the final two years of his contract so he can pursue opportunities elsewhere.

In making this request Luke has emphasised that this is his decision and his decision alone, based on the reasons just given.

Luke has also emphasised his desire to play out the remaining eight games of the 2012 season with the Panthers. He would like to finish his time at Penrith on a high note and if given a clearance by the club, he would like the parting to be on the best of terms.

Luke has given the Panthers outstanding service over the past eleven years. Luke is a tremendous success story and a perfect role model for youngsters growing up here in Western Sydney. Luke rose from the Penrith Junior league to play in the NRL, captain his club, play for his state and play for his country.

Luke has always been, and will always be, a very valuable member of the Panthers.

In light of Luke's long service and his current feelings about his own future, we have agreed to give Luke the release from his contract that he now seeks.

The release will be effective from 31st October 2012.