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Staines extension first of many as Panthers fight off rivals

Penrith are planning for Charlie Staines' re-signing in the face of significant rival interest to be the first of a few, with Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton next on the club's retention list.

A three-year extension for Staines, 20, was announced by the Panthers on Wednesday after reluctantly granting him permission to explore his options elsewhere earlier in the year.

Canterbury and Wests Tigers both flagged interest in the 20-year-old before Staines opted to take up Penrith's offer, committing to the club until the end of 2023.

Talks with Burton are due to pick up again once Penrith's premiership tilt is wrapped up.

No extension offer has been tabled as yet to the highly-rated five-eighth, who is also on the Bulldogs radar, where current Panthers assistant Trent Barrett will take charge in his return to head coaching next season.

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Burton is already contracted to Penrith for 2021, but as of November 1 will be able to field official offers from rival clubs.

It's understood that Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill has personally informed Panthers hierarchy of his club's interest in Burton in an effort to be upfront about their pursuit of the Dubbo product.

Canterbury also remain in the mix for Jack Hetherington, who was given permission to talk to rivals some time ago given the Panthers glut of young forwards.

Panthers has done so much for me and my family so it feels good to repay that faith they've shown in me

Charlie Staines

Penrith CEO Brian Fletcher told NRL.com the club has no issue with Barrett's potential conflict of interest having first broached it when his Belmore move was confirmed.

"Ivan [Cleary] and Trent sort that out between themselves, there's never been a drama there," Fletcher said on Wednesday.

The stunning form of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai as a halves combination looms as a roadblock for Burton at Penrith, with he and Luai both signed until 2021 at this stage.

Boom centre Crichton has also attracted interest from rival clubs, but has indicated previously that he can't see himself playing elsewhere at this point in his career.

Fletcher is bullish about Penrith's ability to retain the bulk of their outstanding junior crop, pointing to the bonds among their young players as a significant selling point for the club.

"Matt's signed for next year and there's a plan there, but there's no rush either," Fletcher said.

"He'll stay with the boys as well. That's the idea we're working with here, we've got these young blokes and we're building around them.

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"They're all so young, most of them are under 24 so if we can keep them you can be competitive for the next decade with a bit of luck.

"Guys like Charlie, he's from the bush, he's a good country kid.

"He was always going to play with us. That's where his heart is and he's got a lot of mates here.

"Billy Burns from Parkes, Matty Burton from Dubbo, they're all good mates and all the other young blokes in the side, I think they can see the future here in this side."

Staines, who scored four tries in a memorable round nine debut against Cronulla, spoke of that same bond with his teammates after putting pen to paper.

"Panthers has done so much for me and my family so it feels good to repay that faith they've shown in me," he said.

"I took my time to consider all options but at the end of the day my heart is here in Penrith and I'm very happy to re-sign.

"There's such a special bond that all the players and staff have here. It feels like a big family.

"Wherever I can fit into this team moving forward, I'll play, because I just want to be a part of it."