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Capewell puts premiership dream ahead of contract cream

On the back of a rollercoaster 2020 season at the Panthers, back-rower Kurt Capewell is desperate to prove his worth in what could be his final year at the club. 

Capewell was restricted to nine games last year as quad and knee injuries hampered his ability to make a good impression after shifting from the Sharks at the end of 2019. 

After returning to the high-flying Panthers squad in round 17, Capewell locked down a spot and was part of the grand final charge before playing a starring role in the Maroons' upset Origin win to top off a season like no other.

"It's been an interesting time," Capewell told NRL.com.

"It was probably one of the most challenging years I've had but to finish it off with a grand final – albeit not winning it – then jumping on to win an Origin series it was unbelievable really. I was over the moon.

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"Obviously the grand final is going to burn us for a while and I dare say it will be a pretty good game when we play Melbourne [in round three] but we look forward to that.

"With Origin, it just shows that even though we were massive underdogs if you're passionate enough to achieve something you can pretty much do anything."

Capewell's heroics in the representative arena means the Panthers could struggle to keep the 27-year-old beyond this season.

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Last year's minor premiers have worked overtime to get fresh deals done for the likes of Isaah Yeo, Stephen Crichton and Jarome Luai before the season kicked off but Capewell faces a more uncertain future with a return to Queensland an option.

"I'm not really worrying about it," Capewell said.

"My main goal is to win a premiership here and the rest will take care of itself."

In a show of faith from Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, Capewell has been named to start on the edge with Liam Martin set to come off the bench for the season opener against the Cowboys.

Cleary indicated the pair, along with Viliame Kikau, would rotate in the back row during the early rounds, while Martin was also capable of doing a job for the side in the middle.

"I dare say it could change week-to-week but I'm happy to start," Capewell said.

"Ivan will work the changes. It might be a case that I go side-to-side, but hopefully I can stay in the back row."