Panthers forward Trent Merrin has signed a four-year deal with English Super League club Leeds Rhinos and will depart Penrith despite having two years remaining on his contract.
Merrin's signing by Leeds coincided with Hull KR's announcement they had secured the services of North Queensland centre Kane Linnett on a three-year deal.
Merrin will link up with former Canberra Raiders coach David Furner at Leeds, the club confirmed on Thursday, with the Rhinos having also recently signed NRL duo Tuimoala Lolohea and Konrad Hurrell.
"This is hugely significant for not just Leeds Rhinos but the Super League competition and shows the ambition of our club to compete at the very top of the game," Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington said.
"Trent was Dave Furner's number one target and it has come as a major boost to have secured a player of his quality on a long-term contract."
Merrin, 29, has made 205 NRL appearances, debuting with St George Illawarra in 2009 before moving to Penrith in 2016. He played seven Tests for Australia and 13 State of Origin matches for NSW.
"What an incredible journey it has been, as a kid running the streets of St. Peter's with a dream, to living every moment of it in reality. I can not begin to thank everyone enough who has played a massive part of my NRL career," Merrin wrote in an Instagram post.
"To the Dragons thank you so much for giving me the chance to start my career as well as some of the best memories I will cherish forever.
"And to the Panthers I want to thank you for the past 3 years of my life it has seriously been a fantastic time and experience. The way the club and community opened up there arms to me and made me feel welcome and at home is something I'll never forget and will hold onto forever."
Merrin's exit follows the departures from Penrith of Corey Harawira-Naera (Bulldogs), Christian Crichton (Bulldogs), Tyrone Peachey (Titans) and Corey Waddell (Sea Eagles), and the retirements this year of Peter Wallace and Tim Browne.
The Panthers have signed Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Wests Tigers), Tim Grant (Wests Tigers), Tyrell Fuimaono (Rabbitohs) for the 2019 season.
"Trent Merrin has given our club three years of outstanding service, both on and off the field. Panthers played finals football in each of the three seasons he spent at the club," Penrith executive general manager Phil Gould said.
"Apart from the tremendous football he has played, Trent has been instrumental in mentoring the careers of a number of our young players.
"We wish Trent well with his new challenge in the English Super League. Leeds has secured itself a very good man."
Meanwhile, Hull KR announced the signing of Linnett, who played in North Queensland's 2015 premiership winning team and has represented Scotland in five Tests, as well as Country Origin in 2016.
Linnett began his NRL career with Sydney Roosters in 2010, and remained with the club until the end of 2011 when he moved to the Cowboys.
In eight seasons at North Queensland, Linnett made 162 NRL appearances and crossed for 62 tries, including during the club's historic NRL Grand Final victory over Brisbane Broncos in 2015.
"Kane is obviously a very experienced NRL player with over 180 first-grade games, he's 29 years old and plays both centre and second row which will give us a lot of depth in that area," Hull KR coach Tim Sheens said.
"Kane is a very professional player, a very good player but also a very good person so I think he will add to the culture of the club."
Linnett said: "I always wanted to finish my career in the Super League, I'm really excited to get over there and meet a new bunch of boys, get settled in, work hard and hopefully have a good year.
"Having a senior role, I've got a lot of experience in the NRL so I'd like to help some of the younger boys through and it would be great to win a Super League title. I've played a couple of finals here in the NRL, so that would be the ultimate achievement."