Gould open to Jennings return
Two years ago he showed Michael Jennings the door, but Penrith boss Phil Gould has left it wide open for the former Panther to make a possible return to the club.
Michael will take on younger brother George for the first time when Penrith travel to the eastern suburbs next Monday night in what will be a mighty test for the early ladder leaders.
The Roosters centre controversially left the foot of the mountains in January 2012, but Gould wouldn't rule out approaching the incumbent Kangaroo to re-unite with his siblings – 19-year-old Robert plays in Penrith's NSW Cup team – at Penrith when he comes off contract at the end of next season.
"Mick's a very accomplished footballer these days, isn't he? That's a thought," he said.
"Look, they're very close, the brothers. They love their rugby league. I know the two boys go and support Michael down at the Roosters whenever they get to see him, and Michael was out to support George in the first game up here and it's great. They're a great family."
Despite watching his older brother depart from the club, George said it was still a dream to play alongside him in the same team.
"As a little kid, I always wanted to play with him... I'll try and get him here," he said.
George has made an impressive start to his rookie year, crossing for two tries and totalling 355 metres in his first two games filling in for injured winger Josh Mansour. Gould predicted the 21-year-old would have a long future in the NRL.
"He's been tremendous," Gould said. "He was a part of our under-20s winning competition side a couple of years ago. I think he's done an outstanding job because he didn't play at all last year, he got injured in the Nines, [and] missed the whole season.
"He had to work hard, had 12 months off, and then come straight back in and debut against the Bulldogs. He performed well, and [was] great against the Titans again on the weekend. He's a long-term NRL player, I’ve got no doubt."
While many eyes will be on the clash of the Jennings siblings next week, Gould said it was the fourth brother in the family who was most similar to the NSW Origin three-quarter.
"The younger one, Robert, is very much like Michael - very evasive, very quick," he said. "George is a brute: he just runs over the top of you. He doesn't go around you. He's very, very physical in what he does.
"But they're all extremely talented. And they're rugby league kids. This is the game they've grown up playing and the love playing it. I think these two boys will be long term NRL players as well.
"They are very strong, for young fellas. Robert's still only 18 and I think he can play NRL tomorrow. George has had 12 months off, come straight out of under-20s and straight into first grade and acquitted himself very well. They've still got a lot to learn about the game, but that can only come with experience, and I'm sure they'll get that experience."
With Mansour due to return from a shoulder injury in Round 4 or 5, George is likely to be squeezed out of a strong Panthers backline – unless centre partner Jamal Idris moves into the second row.
"I'm always trying to push to hopefully establish a spot in the team, but it's going to be tough," he said. "I know that Josh is an international player. I'm just happy – if the team needs me, I'll just slot in wherever I can."