Penrith has received a boost on the eve of the 2021 Telstra Premiership season with representative centre Stephen Crichton agreeing to a new two-year contract on Wednesday.
Crichton's extension will mean the 20-year-old remains at the Panthers until at least the end of the 2023 season in a coup for the club following a breakout campaign last year.
Crichton's future had been a hot topic in the off-season after the explosive centre attracted interest from rival clubs after scoring 17 tries in 22 games to help the Panthers towards their first grand final appearance in 17 years.
However, after releasing the likes of Josh Mansour and Dean Whare in the backline, both parties were able to settle on a financial agreement that would keep the local junior in Sydney's west.
"It's really exciting to know I'm going to be at Panthers for the next three years," Crichton said in a club statement.
"This is my home. I've grown up in this club and built strong relationships with everyone here. I've never wanted to play anywhere else.
"To get the deal done before the season starts is massive and now I can focus on playing my best footy."
Panthers general manager Matt Cameron said Crichton's re-signing was crucial to the club's future success.
"Stephen is another example of a local junior we've developed into a NRL player, on the cusp of higher representative honours," Cameron said.
"We take great pride in Stephen's journey so far and consider it further validation of our club's significant investment in junior development."
The Panthers will now turn their attention to locking in another local junior, five-eighth Jarome Luai, to a long-term deal after confirming the retention of Charlie Staines, Isaah Yeo and Spencer Leniu in recent months.
The quartet has been named in the club's main trial against Parramatta at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.