Penrith great Ryan Girdler has pleaded with the NRL club to persevere with NSW State of Origin star Michael Jennings.
Girdler said Penrith’s Wednesday signing of young centre Dean Whare to a two-year deal from rival club Manly was astute but called on Penrith to show faith in Jennings, despite the rumoured ripples he has caused at the club.
“I’d hate to see him (Jennings) go somewhere else,” Girdler told AAP.
“It’s easy for everyone to sit back and criticise players but the fact of the matter is until the last couple of weeks, Penrith haven’t been winning a lot of games … and when you’re an outside back like Jenno is, you don’t have a lot of say when you’re not going forward and you’re not getting the ball you’d like to be getting.
“People are saying ‘he’s not playing that well’ where I believe he’s just not really getting the opportunities, so if Penrith start going well he’s the player that’s going to benefit from that and I’m sure we’ll see him score some tries.”
Whare is seen as a direct replacement for Michael Gordon who will join Cronulla, but despite continued club denials the rumours persist that Jennings is on the outer.
It follows his dumping to the NSW Cup and several run-ins with management.
Jennings has been linked to the likes of Souths, Canterbury and even rugby union but his future remains unclear.
With an upset win over Manly last weekend things appear to be on the improve for the Panthers but Girdler said he was perplexed by coach Ivan Cleary’s decision to dump Luke Lewis as skipper – even though the coach insists that will only be for the State of Origin period.
The former Test and NSW centre hopes the issue can be resolved and said he will only judge decisions made by Cleary and Panthers boss Phil Gould based on how the team performs on the park.
“I go by the way they’re performing on the field and all year their effort’s been great … unfortunately they’ve lost a few games they should have won and they’ve been down on troops,” he said.
“Ivan’s making some tough decisions.
“From the outside looking in (the Lewis demotion) is a little bit strange.
“… Hopefully that can be resolved and Lewi is always going to be a great club man and make the right decision based on the team but obviously as a coach he needs to communicate with his senior players and hopefully that wasn’t an oversight.”