Penrith Panthers veteran Josh Mansour has spilled the beans on a post-grand final moment that confirmed his "worst fears" about his beloved club.
The 30-year-old winger is the longest-serving player at the club and a fan favourite with Panthers supporters.
However, Mansour has been given the brutal truth that he's not part of coach Ivan Cleary's first grade plans for next season.
The Penrith flyer told the Sydney Morning Herald that he feared the worst when he was summoned for a meeting with Cleary and football manager Matt Cameron, just 48 hours after Penrith's heartbreaking grand final loss to the Melbourne Storm.
“As soon as I saw Ivan and Matt together it confirmed my worst fears,” Mansour said.
“I had a feeling I was going to hear what I didn’t want to hear. When Ivan told me the plan was to play Charlie [Staines] on the left wing next year I was just in shock. I didn’t see it coming at all.
Mansour admits to being frustrated and angry at how his likely exit from the club played out and suggested he expected better after years of service to the club.
"I really didn’t see my time at Penrith ending like this,” he added.
"After nine years, being told at a cafe straight after a grand final loss that I wasn’t wanted ... I didn’t think that was how it was going to end for me.
"Am I angry? Yes and no. I am more frustrated than anything at how it all went down. They would have known for a while, but I find out after a losing grand final.
"There has to be a better way to do it. It doesn’t sit right with me after being at the club for so many years. I had to remind myself that it’s a business and that they are doing what they think is right for the team.
Mansour insists he still has "at least another three years" left in first grade footy and will no undoubtedly attract plenty of attention from rival clubs.
At one point he was the best winger in the competition but a series of injury setbacks have punctuated his NRL career.
Mansour a victim of Panthers shake-up
The 30-year-old's axing comes as the Panthers review their season and begin planning to go one better next year after the 26-20 grand final loss to Melbourne.
An investment in local youth is the policy for the club with captain James Tamou signing a two-year deal with Wests Tigers after the Panthers offered him just one more year on his contract.
Mansour, who made his debut for the Panthers in 2012, would be the second player from the grand final side to exit the club.
The Tigers could be a logical place for Mansour to land should Josh Addo-Carr decide to back out of a heads of agreement he reportedly made with Michael Maguire's club.
The Storm winger is now reportedly leaning towards staying in Melbourne for another season despite originally wanting to relocate to Sydney for family reasons.
However, a sticking point in the deal appears to be the Tigers' reluctance to swap a player of Addo-Carr's calibre to the Storm, such as David Nofoaluma or Tommy Talau.
It could open the door for Penrith to swap Mansour for the NSW winger, but Addo-Carr's asking price of around $500,000 is believed to be too high for the club to reasonably consider under salary cap strain.
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