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Coote's NRL future clouded at Penrith

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has refused to guarantee Lachlan Coote will still be at the club next season.
Coote's NRL future clouded at Penrith
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Aug 30 AAP - Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has refused to guarantee Lachlan Coote will still be at the club next season.

Coote, who has spent most of this season on the sidelines with injury, is one of the biggest earners at the club but the emergence of Matt Moylan and the arrival of Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward next season has put a cloud over his future with the Panthers.

The 23-year-old City Origin representative is under contract until 2015 but speculation linking him with a move to North Queensland will intensify following Matt Bowen's retirement announcement on Friday.

Coote began the season playing at five-eighth before tearing his pectoral muscle in round two against the Wests Tigers.

That injury allowed Moylan to get a chance in first grade only for red tape to force him out of the team as the club were told by the NRL they would breach the second-tier salary cap if he played.

The issue was finally resolved earlier this season, but Cleary said it's not the reason the fit-again Coote has been picked ahead of him.

"Currently as it stands he's still here for next year and at the moment he's doing a good job for the club," he said.

"It's been a bit topsy-turvy for Lachlan this year, we trained him as a six in pre-season but he then was injured in round two and missed most of the year.

"In that time Matty Moylan came through. But he's holding a spot in front of Matt at the moment.

"Matt is out of the side because he has few things to work on in his game. He is a young guy who has come in and done a fantastic job and he is just showing signs of a long, hard season.

"Lachlan is the other side of the coin, he is fresh."

A win for Penrith against the Bulldogs would mean they go into the final round of the season against Manly with a chance of still making the finals.

It would represent a fantastic achievement for Cleary should his side finish in the top-eight having been tipped by many for the wooden spoon at the start of the season.

However, the 44-year-old said there is a long way to go before the club can become a premiership powerhouse once again.

"The Dogs are a tough team with a winning culture that stretches back a long way," he said.

"It's been a year where a lot of people have had opportunities and that's the way it will be in the future.

"We are building for the future and we've seen some kids come through this year who have done very well."


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