Penrith coach Anthony Griffin admits Jamie Soward’s exit has left the club short on playmaking stocks.
Just three weeks after his dumping to reserve grade, Soward made a hasty exit from the NRL this week to take up a contract with English club London Broncos.
His departure leaves the Panthers ominously short on playmaking options, with second-rower Bryce Cartwright forced to partner rookie halfback Nathan Cleary at the scrumbase.
Youngster Te Maire Martin, who has six games against his name after making his own debut earlier this year, is still up to a month away with a shoulder injury.
Griffin admitted it was hard to allow Soward to move mid-season, but couldn’t stand in the way of the veteran taking an opportunity to play first-team football elsewhere.
“It is difficult. It’s just a judgement at the time and for myself and (Panthers boss Phil Gould), we understand where Jamie’s at in his career and he’s got an opportunity to extend at the moment,” he said.
“It might leave us a bit short in the short-term but we’ve got Nathan going there really well at the moment and Te Maire Martin is looking positive for a return maybe in three to four weeks’ time.
“With all those things in mind, we’ve made that call but we’re certainly very grateful with what Jamie’s done for the club.”
Griffin also believes Cartwright has the ability to see out the season at pivot, where he has helped the Panthers to two straight wins over Manly and South Sydney.
Just last week the NSW State of Origin hopeful set up three tries against the Rabbitohs.
“If he keeps playing the way he’s playing at the moment, he’s doing a job,” Griffin said.
“The best thing for Bryce at the moment is he’s getting the ball in his hands a lot and he’s not changing his game a lot to what he’d normally been doing.
“He’s able to play both sides of the field now and he run 100 metres last week. So if he can keep doing that and keep working on his defensive game, I don’t see any reason in the short-term to move that around.”