Panthers’ Moylan to test NRL free agency

He’s viewed as the long-term face of the franchise, but Penrith captain Matt Moylan says he’s in no rush to re-sign with the club before his contract expires at the end of next season.

The Panthers star had been in talks with club officials on a contract extension earlier this year that would’ve seen Moylan become the first NRL player signed through to the 2021 season.

But while the Penrith No.1 is intent on remaining a Panther, negotiations have since stalled.

“Obviously I want to stay but nothing’s happened of yet. I’m not in a rush,” Moylan told AAP.

“Being captain here, it’s somewhere I want to stick around. But I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. I’m just playing footy and I’m still signed for next year.

Asked if there had been any developments on previous talks, he said: “No, nothing.”

But after not making his NRL debut until he was 22, Moylan is also believed to be interested in testing his market value, which has skyrocketed after breaking into the NSW State of Origin team this year.

He joins a star-studded list of fullbacks that come off contract at the end of the 2017 season, including Ben Barba, Darius Boyd, Josh Dugan, James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic.

Cronulla talent Valentine Holmes will also be highly sought after for clubs, who are expected to see the salary cap raised to over $7 million for the first time in league history by the 2018 season.

The Panthers have been one of the league’s biggest spenders this winter, splashing the cash for North Queensland premiership-winner and incumbent Kangaroo James Tamou on a four-year deal.

The club have also tied down first-grade regulars Nathan Cleary, James Fisher-Harris, Leilani Latu, Josh Mansour, Trent Merrin, Peter Wallace and Isaah Yeo for at least another two years.

Tamou, Latu, and Merrin are three of just five players in the league, along with Canterbury pair David Klemmer and Moses Mbye, that own deals until the end of the 2020 season.

Merrin, who re-signed with the club a further two years despite being less than one year into his current contract, urged Moylan to base his decision on his happiness instead of money.

“If the money’s great and you’re not happy, then there’s no point doing it,” Merrin said.

“If you’re going to sign a long-term contract, it’s got to be based on your happiness and the challenges that are going to make you a better person and player.

“Moyza’s a great leader here and we all look up to him as a player and a person. He’s definitely a Penrith boy from the start. We’d love to see him stay at the club for sure.”

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