A NEW deal for in-demand Penrith star Luke Lewis could be finalised by Wednesday, says his manager Greg Willett.
''We're hoping it will be done by then,'' Willett said last night. ''Luke doesn't want it to drag on, and there probably won't be anything in the way of his making a decision in the next few days anyway. We are getting final details of the offers from the clubs that are very interested in Luke, and once he's got all of the information in front of him he'll make a decision.''
Wests Tigers, Cronulla, Newcastle, Parramatta and Canberra are among the clubs pursuing Lewis, who was contracted to the Panthers until the end of next season only to shock the league world by applying for - and being granted - a release from the final year of that deal last week. He is playing out this season with the Panthers before joining his new club.
Willett said he had made it clear to the clubs chasing Lewis that the player had reached the stage where he regarded his post-playing career as one of the priorities in discussions.
''It's about what Luke can bring to a club as a star player for the next three or four years, and how that club can help him prepare for life after football,'' Willett said. ''Luke is interested in staying in footy when he stops playing, and becoming a strength and conditioning coach is something he is keen to consider.
''Wests Tigers have adjusted their offer in the knowledge of what Luke is keen to do after football. They did a great job preparing John Skandalis to be a strength and conditioning coach there by sending him to the US to do courses and things like that, and they have indicated that they could help Luke in a similar way. He could do courses during the break between seasons, for instance.
''All of the clubs that want to sign Luke have got to come up with some sort of idea to try to make their offer the most appealing, and that's what we're waiting to see now. There isn't much difference in the money being offered by the various clubs, so when we get the rest of the information in it won't take Luke long to make up his mind.
''Canberra gave me their offer yesterday, and the Roosters have indicated they would like to talk to us after their game against Souths.''
Willett was adamant Lewis had not decided which club to join, adding: ''I don't think he's far off, but I wouldn't assume he has settled on one. What we hear in the next couple of days could make a big difference.''
The Tigers and Sharks have been described as the frontrunners to get Lewis. At full-time of the Tigers-Panthers game on Saturday night the Tigers players were certainly doing their part on behalf of the club, as a number of them - including captain Robbie Farah - made a point of talking to Lewis. Farah and Lewis built a friendship playing for NSW in this year's State of Origin series.