Dylan Edwards has reportedly agreed to a $950,000-per-season extension with the Penrith Panthers, further clouding the future of Jarome Luai. According to the Daily Telegraph, Edwards has agreed on the monetary value of his new contract, but it is yet to be decided whether he re-signs for four of five years.
The contract extension will reportedly be announced in the lead-up to the NRL finals series. It comes as another huge boost for the Panthers after representative back-rower Liam Martin also agreed to re-sign. Martin will reportedly sign a three-year, $2.3 million extension to stay at the foot of the mountains, locking up another of the premiership heroes.
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However the re-signing spree could spell bad news for five-eighth Luai. The State of Origin playmaker is set to command big money on the open market, and with so much cash spent on other players the Panthers appear unlikely to be able to keep him.
“They have now got Dylan Edwards and Jarome Luai to work out to keep that great squad together. I am not sure they can keep both," Phil Rothfield said on NRL 360.
“But Martin is a huge signing. They are a chance to lose Luai because he either wants to stay in a great system and keep winning titles or chase another $100,000.”
Fellow journalist Brent Read said Luai would get way more money from other clubs if goes to market on November 1. “I think Edwards (re-signing) might even get done this week," he said. "Luai will get a lot of money thrown at him if he goes to November 1. There is not a lot of halves on the market.
“He will get $1 million a season if he leaves and he won’t get anywhere near that at Penrith. The Bulldogs are the club that are most often linked to Jarome Luai. So if you add Stephen Crichton and Luai to that roster then maybe a Payne Haas, then you are talking about a team that can give it a real shake.”
Jarome Luai in bizarre $100,000 development
Complicating matters is the fact Luai recently parted ways with his management SFX Sports Group, reportedly costing him a $100,000 endorsement deal with electronics manufacturer JBL. It means he must wait until October to sign with a new manager, giving him little time before the November 1 window opens.
Speaking after Penrith's win over the Bulldogs last week, coach Ivan Cleary said Luai wants to stay. “I want him to stay here, he wants to stay,” Cleary said. “But it is a little bit tricky because if he has done that, if he’s leaving his management, there’s a period where you can’t actually do anything.
“But he knows what we think of him, and I know how much he loves the place. He’s part of our team, he’s a local boy. It’s not just how he plays, it is how he connects our team and we definitely want him here long-term.”
The Panthers might have already conceded that Luai won't be around much longer, signing Daine Laurie for the 2024 season. Laurie can play fullback or in the halves, but has been playing his best footy for the Wests Tigers at five-eighth.
Laurie initially left the Panthers at the end of 2020 in a player swap with centre Paul Momirovski. He has played 43 of his 46 NRL games for the Tigers, but fell down the pecking order under new coach Tim Sheens this season.
Kept the right players
— Kitkat (@kitkattxyz) July 25, 2023
Dylan Edwards is gonna be an NIL money machine. Bro is a star
— Yo (@undxrlofi) July 25, 2023
So for the Panthers our future hall of famers are likely to be Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Brian To'o, Dylan Edwards and James Fisher-Harris as a bare minimum if Penrith joins this list.
— Rugby League Romantic (@mazo1eighty) July 25, 2023
Cap room / top 30 spots next yr. Need to re-sign Edwards and Luai, have Taylan May and Jenkins need to re- sign. Turuva Apis cousin
— BoonboonA (@Booners05) July 18, 2023
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