16 Nov 2018

League: Penrith set sights on locking in Kiwis forward

2:21 pm on 16 November 2018

Penrith have set their sights on locking New Zealand Test forward James Fisher-Harris in long-term after releasing Trent Merrin to the English Super League.

Fisher-Harris is the Panthers' biggest name player off contract for the end of 2019, and it can be revealed talks have already begun with the 22-year-old to stay at Penrith.

Last re-signed in 2016 when he'd only played a handful of matches, Fisher- Harris' value has since sky-rocketed after playing five Tests for the Kiwis and developing into one of Penrith's best forwards.

Kiwis and Penrith forward James Fisher-Harris.

Kiwis and Penrith forward James Fisher-Harris. Photo: Photosport

But chief executive Brian Fletcher is confident the club would be able to keep him.

"He's come through the system as a young age and put him through the grades. We've turned him into a superstar footballer and unfortunately now he's worth a lot of money," he sid.

"They (other clubs) have just seen him play, he's a Test forward now as well. But he loves the place and has come through the system. He's got a home out here and a young family.

"I know he doesn't want to go anywhere but at the end of the day it could come down to dollars with the decision he's got to make but I'm pretty certain he will be staying."

Fletcher also confirmed the Panthers have opened negotiations to keep young half Jarome Luai at the club, who is seen as the logical successor to James Maloney at five-eighth.

The 21-year-old had an impressive debut against the Warriors earlier this year, and is also off contract at the end of 2019 alongside firebrand forward Jack Hetherington and hooker Sione Katoa.