Mansour, Koroisau sign two-year Panthers deals
Things just keep getting better out at the foot of the mountains, with the Panthers today announcing the re-signing of powerhouse winger Josh Mansour.
Mansour's new deal, through to the end of 2016, was revealed just hours after Penrith confirmed they had also signed promising Rabbitohs hooker Apisai Koroisau on a two-year contract.
Mansour's decision to stay at Penrith despite being chased hard by a cashed-up Canberra comes as the Panthers find themselves in the Top 2 for the first time since 2010, a remarkable achievement for coach Ivan Cleary given the upheaval and high turnover in personnel at the club in recent years.
The 23-year-old is currently in the frame to make his Origin debut as a replacement for injured Blues winger Brett Morris after a stellar start to the year, having scored nine tries in nine games, and would have done his selection chances no harm with a double and 270 running metres against the Eels last Friday.
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Mansour said on Monday that his first preference was to remain close to his family in Sydney, and said he was thrilled to continue his development at the club that handed him his first start in the top grade in 2012.
"Penrith is where my heart is, and it's where I want my footy career to be right now," said Mansour.
"We are playing some really good footy as a team and I am so lucky to be a part of that.
"Working under Ivan has been really good learning experience the last few years, and I feel like he brings out the best in me."
The news comes as another blow for the Raiders, who have missed out on their second big-name signing in less than a week after Melbourne back-rower Kevin Proctor chose to stay with the Storm despite being reported to have a handshake agreement to join Ricky Stuart's squad in the nation's capital.
For the Panthers though, the retention of one of the game's best up-and-coming wingers follows hot on the heels of their signing of Koroisau, as well as the recent extension of the contracts of outside backs Dean Whare and George Jennings.
Koroisau has been amongst the NRL's most impressive debutants this season, having performed admirably for the Rabbitohs in the absence of international rake Issac Luke, and will join the Penrith for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The 21-year-old rake, who played four Tests for Fiji at last year's World Cup, is the latest in an impressive list of players to join the club including halves Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward, as well as established first grade forwards Elijah Taylor, Lewis Brown and Brent Kite.
Panthers general manager of rugby league Phil Moss said Koroisau will add depth to Cleary's hooking stocks, which currently include club captain Kevin Kingston and livewire Papua New Guinean national James Segeyaro.
"Apisai is a welcome addition to the Panthers family for 2015. He has speed, agility and representative football experience and he will play a key role in our team structure in the years to come," says Moss.