New Penrith coach Anthony Griffin is yet to settle on a halves combination for the 2016 NRL season but under-pressure playmaker Jamie Soward is a step closer to reprising his role as five-eighth.
Soward has been shopped around to rival clubs with two years left on his deal at the foot of the mountains.
However, the former NSW State of Origin pivot has dug his heels in and is determined to stay with the Panthers.
When unveiled as new Panthers coach in late October, Griffin challenged Soward to show how much he wanted the job. A month later the former Brisbane mentor says Soward has done just that.
“He is training well, he is doing everything he needs to do,” Griffin said at a fan day at Panthers Leagues on Saturday.
“There is no pressure on him.
“I have come in and I have high expectations on myself to make sure I do the best possible job I can and that is all I am looking for from everyone else. If we all do that we will make the most of the talent here.”
Soward and Peter Wallace appear set to be retained as Penrith’s halves combination after both suffered a severely disrupted 2015 through injury.
Matt Moylan, who continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered in May, is likely to play fullback.
Moylan has been linked to a frontline role with the Panthers but that may not come until 2017. Wallace is off contract with Penrith at the end of next season and Moylan could fill his spot in the halves.
In the meantime, Griffin is unlikely to commit to who plays where for the Panthers until the new year.
“I came in and didn’t know anyone and I still here and still working and I will make those decisions closer to the season when I have a better handle on everything,” he said.