Penrith Panthers recruit Jamal Idris has made an off-season switch from the Gold Coast Titans. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Jamal Idris was always going to come back to Sydney to be closer to his sick mother, but it was Phil Gould who convinced him that Penrith would be the right fit.
While Idris was reluctant to discuss the condition of his ill mother, he insists his defection from the Gold Coast was purely based on his desire to be closer to his mum, and he has since moved into her Regents Park home.
New Penrith Panthers recruit Jamal Idris is all smiles at Centrebet Stadium on Monday. Photo: Wolter Peeters
''I don't want to get into it because it's private,'' he said. ''But it's hard being up there by yourself. My mum has been sick. I hear a lot of stories about guys being away from home when their parents pass. I can't imagine losing my mum, I love her to death, and I'm now living with her. I've got a place in Parramatta I can move into, but I'm living with her. My dad is in Yagoona.''
With Josh Morris likely to move to fullback to fill the void left by Ben Barba's move to Brisbane, Idris would have been an ideal replacement for Morris in the centres at Canterbury.
However the Bulldogs were never really in the hunt for his signature, with Idris admitting he was mesmerised by Gould and his vision for the Panthers.
''Gus sat me down and told me where the club is going and so did my manager,'' Idris said. ''Gus is the kind of bloke who talks to you and you feel like a schoolkid again. He has that sort of influence over you.''
Idris had a mediocre season by his lofty standards when he joined the Titans from the Bulldogs in 2012.
However, the former NSW and Australian representative returned to form last season before he broke his leg, ironically against the Panthers in Darwin in July.
''I definitely had my ups and downs while I was up at the Titans,'' he said. ''2012 was full of injuries, and it's hard when people are bombarding you. I came into 2013 fully fit and with no injuries. After the first half of the season people were saying, 'Oh, you're playing good, is it this, is it that? But I wasn't injured, that was the only difference. Then I did my leg. That was heart-breaking.
''It's funny because the majority of people talk to me about representative footy. They think about it more than I think about it. That's the last thing on my mind. I'm not thinking about the Blues, I'm not thinking about Australia, I'm not thinking about anything but playing for this club. For me personally as long as I'm injury free I'll be happy.''
Media talking to new recruit Jamal Idris after training pic.twitter.com/A1cuq68iki— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) January 13, 2014
Idris insists he left the Titans with no hard feelings. His mother's health was the No.1 priority and admits it was difficult being away from home.