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Idris ends Panthers spending spree: Cleary

Coach Ivan Cleary says Penrith's extensive recruiting campaign of the past two NRL seasons has ended with the key signing of Jamal Idris and the Panthers will now focus on fostering local talent.
Idris ends Panthers spending spree: Cleary
by AAP

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, Jan 14 AAP - Coach Ivan Cleary says Penrith's extensive recruiting campaign of the past two NRL seasons has ended with the key signing of Jamal Idris and the Panthers will now focus on fostering local talent.

Under Cleary and club supremo Phil Gould the Panthers have been one of the busiest off season recruiters of the last two years.

Last season's acquisitions which included Lewis Brown, Dean Whare, Sika Manu, James Segeyaro, Wes Naiqama, James Roberts and Isaac John will be joined by the likes of Idris, Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace, Brent Kite, Elijah Taylor and Tyrone Peachey for 2014 in a squad capable of playing finals football.

Ahead of his third season in charge of the Panthers, Cleary has now assembled a squad he can call his own.

The Panthers have one of the biggest junior catchment areas in the NRL and Cleary said the club will now focus on developing their young talent.

"We have been very active over the last couple of years and we are probably in the position now where we can sit back and develop instead of recruiting," Cleary told the Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday.

"That is definitely our mandate here.

"With our NYC team winning the Holden Cup last year we have a few players there we have high hopes for. We have pretty much got it together and are looking to the future."

Idris' signing last week from the Gold Coast was a significant coup for the Panthers and the former NSW and Australia representative joined the club for training for the first time on Monday.

Despite a horror injury run, which included a broken leg last year and cleanout knee surgery last month Cleary said he is happy with Idris' level of fitness and expects him to be ready for round one.

"It's be fair to be say he is not in peak condition but you know what he is not that far off either," Cleary said.

"We are not going to rush him. We expect him to be ready by round one and I'm sure he will be.

"He looks pretty good. He is happy. One thing he is certainly going to add to our side is size which we could certainly do with in the backline.

"There is no doubt he has a bit of work to do. He has had a few of these injuries before and he understands where he has to be and what his weight has to be.

"Like most players when they move clubs there is a bit of pressure on them and everyone has their eyes on them. He understand that and he is willing to take up that challenge."




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