Grand finalist's 'emotional' act brought Gus Gould to tears

Pictured right, Penrith winger Josh Mansour and club supremo Phil Gould.
Josh Mansour's sacrifice to stay with Penrith brought club supremo Phil Gould to tears. Pic: Getty

Penrith Panthers hero Josh Mansour has revealed details about the "emotional" conversation with Phil Gould that left the club supremo in tears.

Mansour is one of Penrith's favourite sons, with the 30-year-old their longest-serving first grade player after spending nine years with the club.

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However, the powerful winger has opened up about an offer from rival NRL club Canberra that threatened to see him leave his beloved club.

The Raiders made a big-money move for Mansour's services in a 2014 season that saw the Panthers just miss out on a grand final berth.

Penrith simply couldn't match the deal that Canberra had put forward for their big winger, prompting a tough conversation with Gould.

“We were sitting in the player dugout at the stadium,” Mansour told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It was just me and him. The negotiations had kept going back and forth with the club and Gus said to me, ‘You should take this Canberra deal, it’s a great deal.

“But I kept telling him, ‘I don’t want to leave’ and ‘Do what you can, I love this club too much’.

“Penrith had handed me my dream to play in the NRL. I wanted to repay the club for giving me that.”

Mansour said despite all the advice telling him to take the Raiders offer - he couldn't walk out on the club he loved.

“I got emotional,’ he said.

“So did Gus. There were tears in the eyes. Everyone was telling me to go to Canberra. Gus did. So did my manager. Everyone except me.”

It's that loyalty and dedication to the club that has endeared Mansour to Panthers fans.

Seen here, Josh Mansour gives fans a thumbs-up after a Panthers game.
Josh Mansour is the longest-serving Panthers star in their first grade side. Pic: Getty

In that time since being knocked back by South Sydney and picked up by Penrith in 2012, he has been there for everything.

All except for a grand final - and that will finally come against Melbourne on Sunday.

The big winger isn't too proud to admit that he shed some tears after Penrith sealed their spot in the decider with last weekend's win over the Rabbitohs.

"It was just the journey itself, everything hit me at once," Mansour told AAP.

"It's a lot of emotion," Mansour said.

"The boys were like, 'why are you crying?' and I was like, 'I don't know!' I was just so happy.

"We worked so hard to get to this position. Honestly. We were riding the lows last year and now we're just embracing every win."

Mansour riding wave of emotion

In Mansour's first full season, he rode the wave to within one win of a grand final. It was enough to earn him Kangaroos selection.

Then Penrith bottomed out. Injuries befell them in 2015 and Ivan Cleary was sacked as coach.

Three successive semi-final disappointments followed, another coach's exit and, amid it all, a badly injured knee and the kind of facial damage usually reserved for car crash victims.

None of that, however, compared to the torment of 2019 experienced by the club, when teammates were plunged into scandal and Mansour was briefly dropped after the team's horror start to the year.

Now, finally, Mansour is getting his reward.

"It makes everything worthwhile," he said.

"Last year was rock bottom. To have the year we're having, I'm so grateful to be in this position and part of this team.

"It's been one of the hardest years in terms of COVID and our training. Everyone is buying into the culture at our club."

A challenge does, however, await on Sunday.

Mansour will be charged with stopping Suliasi Vunivalu and Melbourne's dangerous left side, after they helped tear Canberra to shreds last week.

Sunday night will be Vunivalu's NRL swansong before he heads to the 15-man game, with the impressive strike rate of 85 tries in 110 games.

with AAP

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