Penrith Panthers: Star duo linked with big-money switch to NRL rival

Michael Holland

Penrith duo Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o could move on in search of more money when their contracts with the Panthers run down, reports have claimed.

The duo have played a key role in the rise of the Panthers, helping them to the 2021 premiership. They have continued to shine in 2022 but rumours suggest they could soon be on the move. Crichton and To’o will both be off-contract at the end of 2023.

Penrith would no doubt like to keep hold but a salary cap squeeze may see them leave. Star halfback Nathan Cleary has just penned a bumper new deal. His partner in the halves, Jarome Luai is also on big money. Isaah Yeo is another.

Dolphins linked with duo

It means that they may look to move on and secure big money elsewhere. And it is no surprise that the Dolphins are already being linked. Wayne Bennett’s men are being linked with every player under the sun. But it is with good reason. They have to sign 30 players for the start of 2023 and have just 12 so far.

Crichton and To’o will only be available from 2024. However reports are rife that the Dolphins could wrap up a double deal. They have the money to be able to meet their demands.

“These boys if they want to earn marquee money, they are not going to get it at Penrith,” journalist Phil Rothfield told NRL360. “They are young and the money at Redcliffe will be much better.”

Penrith are in a great position as they have a number of talented youngsters waiting to step in. So filling the void left by Crichton and To’o would not be too difficult.

Penrith have talented youngsters

“Penrith are in that real sweet spot at the moment where they have got so many good kids coming through that it is inevitable that you are going to lose these players,” Paul Kent added on the show.

“Once they get to the end of their contracts and they are premiership winners your value skyrockets.

“So they get to the end of their contract and they go on the market and they have taken unders for the previous few seasons. But then Penrith have got Taylan May coming through so Penrith have done a great job.”

The Panthers slipped to their first defeat of the season against Parramatta last weekend. They will be looking to bounce back against Melbourne Storm in the Magic Round on Saturday.