Rugby League


Penrith Panthers winger Josh Mansour tempted to join Canberra Raiders

Raiders recruiting target Josh Mansour is torn about whether to accept a lucrative deal with Canberra or remain loyal to Penrith.

The Panthers winger hopes to make a decision on his future in the next week as he remains in the running for a dream call-up to the NSW State of Origin team.

Mansour visited Raiders HQ a couple of weeks ago with his manager Sam Ayoub and Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco, who has since signed a three-year deal with the Raiders reported to be worth $1.9 million.

The Raiders have room to move in the salary cap after missing out on Kiwi international back-rower Kevin Proctor and Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis.

Mansour has scored 18 tries in 36 games since making his debut with the Panthers in 2012 but the 23-year-old admitted the extra money on offer at the Raiders could sway his decision.

"It's been a bit of a headache," he said. "I've got to think of myself at the end of the day, but I've been playing good footy here and this club has given me the opportunity to play first grade.


''(Penrith) is where I made my debut and all the fans have come out with support but ... I've got to focus on my future and do what's best for me.

''NRL careers are very short so I've just got to think of myself sometimes.''

Mansour has nine tries from as many appearances this year and bagged a double in last Friday night's 38-12 win against Parramatta.

He hopes to have the situation sorted soon so he can concentrate on his football for the remainder of the year.

''Probably the next week or so hopefully (and) get it over and done with,'' Mansour said.

''It's just very hard trying to deal with family stuff as well. It'd definitely be very hard to leave this but ... I have to make the best decision for myself and my family.''

The Raiders are in the process of overhauling their roster.

They have 12 players off contract at the end of the season, including Country representative Josh McCrone and former international props Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Brett White.

McCrone has been shopped around to the Melbourne Storm, Learoyd-Lahrs has been linked with a mid-season move to St George Illawarra and White may retire at the end of the year.

The Raiders will lose fullback Anthony Milford to the Brisbane Broncos and centre Matt Allwood to the New Zealand Warriors at the end of the season.

Former Canberra captain Alan Tongue said Mansour would be a huge asset to the Raiders and form a potent attacking combination with Tedesco.

"In the modern game your wingers are so important for not only finishing tries but getting those valuable metres out of your own end,'' Tongue said.

"I think he'd be great for the club and he's got some fair experience behind him as well.

"Looking back at my own career and other guys who come into grade, around that age of 22, 23, 24, you're coming into your best footy and that three or four-year period is when you get the best out of a lot of guys.''