Penrith have put an end to any possibility of Trent Barrett coaching the Panthers next season, strongly denying any interest in the Manly mentor.
With Manly failing to confirm the former NSW and Australian five-eighth’s future at the club beyond the end of this year, Barrett has been linked to a move to the Panthers to replace the sacked Anthony Griffin given his ties to the club and his manager Wayne Beavis’s close relationship to Penrith executive general manager Phil Gould.
However, Panthers chairman Dave O’Neill has categorically denied any interest in Barrett, or his Sea Eagles assistant John Cartwright for that matter, and insists they are not part of the club’s plans.
"Trent Barrett won’t be coaching the Panthers next year," O’Neill told NRL.com.
"We haven't spoken to him, we haven't discussed him internally in any of the conversations we've had around the head coaching position next year.
"Cameron Ciraldo is our coach for the rest of 2018 and after the season we'll begin making plans for 2019 and beyond. But I can assure you Trent Barrett and John [Cartwright] aren't part of those plans."
The opportunity to work at the Panthers in one of the Telstra Premiership's best facilities would no doubt be attractive for Barrett if he were to end his stint at Manly at season's end.
It is believed Barrett has been frustrated with the Manly club’s facilities and resources, with talk about his potential exit failing to go away.
Barrett has a relationship with many players at the Panthers from his time as an assistant coach at the club, but it appears certain Penrith will look in a different direction.
Manly released a statement on Wednesday afternoon in which it said the club would be "addressing the matters" regarding Barrett's status as coach.
"The club is addressing the matters which have been the subject of recent public speculation in relation to its Head Coach, Trent Barrett, and does not intend to make any further statement at this time.
"The club's focus remains on ensuring the best possible finish to the 2018 NRL season on behalf of its playing group, members, fans, corporate partners, owners and its community at large.
"A full statement will be made at the appropriate time."