New details have come to light about the $2 million Dylan Edwards reportedly left on the table to re-sign with the Penrith Panthers. The club announced on Wednesday night that the gun fullback and Clive Churchill medallist has signed a contract extension to remain at the Panthers for another four years.
Edwards had been contracted through 2024, but by tying him to a new deal the Panthers have kept him from negotiating with rivals from the November 1 deadline. The contract extension is a major boost for the back-to-back defending premiers amid a salary cap squeeze that has seen the likes of Viliame Kikau, Api Koroisau and Stephen Crichton forced to leave.
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There are also doubts about whether five-eighth Jarome Luai will be able to stay, although a stunning sacrifice from Edwards may help his teammate. According to leading reporter James Hooper, Edwards' new deal is worth between $850,000 and $900,000 per season. If Edwards had hit the open market he would have commanded upwards of $1 million per season, with Hooper believing he may have sacrificed as much as $500,000 per year.
“Loyalty does count for something,” Hooper said on NRL 360. “When he first arrived at the club he was in and out of first grade, he got the yips under the high ball a bit. But they backed him, because of how hard he trained, how disciplined he was and the sacrifice he was prepared to make.
“So to stay as part of a premiership-winning successful organisation he’s prepared to take unders. If he enters the open market no doubt about it (he gets) $1.2m, $1.3m (a season), maybe more, but it says a lot about him.
“... For all the young kids at home, Dylan Edwards is one of the hardest trainers that I’ve ever seen.. It just shows you if you’re prepared to do the work, hard work will take you a long way.”
Braith Anasta added: “Character, class and loyalty - which unfortunately doesn't really exist that much in the game at the moment. But this kid here, he has got something very special on and off the field.”
Panthers fans over the moon after Dylan Edwards re-signs
Hooper said it wouldn't be a surprise if Luai also signed for less in order to stay at Penrith. “I know they’ve tapped into this theme. It’s been 40 years since any rugby league team at the elite level was able to win three successive premierships. You’ve got to go back to that 81-82-83 when Jack Gibson coached the Parramatta Eels to that feat,” he said.
“It is frightening that the Panthers have now got this system together where they’ve got the biggest junior rugby league nursery in the world ... and they have just got the procession line rolling to the point they are now getting big-name superstar players to accept a little bit less to keep everybody together... it’s scary.”
Edwards joins Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Brian To'o, Liam Marnin, Moses Leota and James Fisher-Harris in re-signing on long-term deals at the Panthers. "Re-signing with the club is huge for me and my family," the fullback said. "I'm really grateful that this club gave me my debut and then for them to show faith in me to be able to extend my stay here is really pleasing and I'm looking forward to it."
Panthers fans were delighted to hear of Edwards' re-signing on Wednesday.
— Axel (@Axel_oz788) August 30, 2023
The news we all wanted to see.
— Pikey (@pikey14) August 30, 2023
Great great news, Romy is next 🤞👏
— Scott Snelgrove (@ScottySnelgrove) August 30, 2023
Yessir!!! Such good news
— Chris Randall (@PC4U_Hawkesbury) August 30, 2023
Phenomenal signing for the club. 🤌
— oldmatespicy ☘⚡️ (@oldmatespicy) August 30, 2023
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