Panther Mansour torn over future
In what shapes as the biggest week of his young career, NSW candidate Josh Mansour says he is hopeful of sorting out his future within the next week as he weighs between sticking loyal to Penrith or chasing a payday with Canberra.
The 23-year-old is also in the frame to replace injured Blues winger Brett Morris when NSW coach Laurie Daley picks his team for Game Two next Tuesday.
"It's been a bit of a headache but I'm sure whatever happens, will happen," he said on Monday.
"I've got to think of myself at the end of the day but I've been playing good footy here and this club has given me the opportunity to play first grade."
Together with Canberra's recent signing James Tedesco, the 23-year-old travelled to the nation's capital with manager Sam Ayoub during the bye weekend to discuss a possible move to the club.
It is no secret that the Raiders are armed with a war chest that has them chasing a host of off-contract stars, but Mansour hinted on Monday that staying close to family in Sydney would be a factor in his decision.
Pressed on when he wanted to finalise his future, he said: "To be honest, probably the next week or so hopefully. Get it over and done with. It's just very hard trying to deal with family stuff as well."
The Bulldogs junior said he was torn between re-signing with the club that gave him his first grade debut or penning a lucrative deal to move to Canberra.
"It's very tough. It's where I made my debut and all the fans have come out with support. But in saying that, I've got to focus on my future and do what's best for me at the end of the day. NRL careers are very short so I've just got to think of myself sometimes," he said.
"It'd definitely be very hard to leave this. But in saying that, I have to make the best decision for myself and my family. Playing for this club has been one of the biggest achievements in my life to be honest. It's been my dream to play NRL and they gave me the opportunity."
Mansour, who debuted with Penrith in 2012, is currently in career-best form and leads the club with nine tries in nine games – including last week's double against Parramatta. He is also averaging 188 metres a game.
Morris's shoulder injury has opened the door for the likes of Mansour and another power winger in Manly's Jorge Taufua, to make their representative debut for NSW in Sydney in 16 days time.
"I'm sure it's every player's dream to play Origin, big NRL stage. Everyone watches it and it has been a big goal of mine, but in saying that, I have to focus on Penrith. Keep my good form here and whatever happens, happens. I'd take it with both hands, definitely," he said.
Mansour declared he was ready for the step up to Origin, and wasn't afraid of being tested under the high ball.
"I think [my running game] has been my biggest strength so far this year. If I get the opportunity, I'd put in 110 per cent for the team. There are a lot of good players out there so it's going to be very competitive to get that wing spot but whatever happens, happens. They'll do the right decision," he said.
"I'm pretty confident [under the high ball]. It's been the biggest improvement on my game so far, but in saying that it's a long season to go. I'm not the tallest winger going around in the NRL so it's been a flaw of mine if you want to say, but I've been practising a lot during the season and pre-season so I feel like I'm very confident and have worked heaps on that part of my game."