Expected to make the move to Bondi ... Michael Jennings. Photo: Edwina Pickles
SYDNEY ROOSTERS will meet Penrith centre Michael Jennings on Monday in a bid to finalise a deal for the 24-year-old to join the club before the start of the season.
While the Herald understands the Roosters won't match the $600,000-a-season price tag Jennings would pick up at Penrith over the next three years, it is believed they are considering offering him a four-year deal worth up to $2 million.
While the Roosters move is all but a done deal, the Herald understands South Sydney have also been interested in the NSW Origin centre and have been talking to his management team since before Christmas.
Penrith general manager Phil Gould said the Panthers would not stand in Jennings's way if he wanted to leave his junior club, but would not fork out huge money to make up for any difference between the two contracts.
''I received an email from Michael's management last week requesting a sizeable payout of his Panther contract to make up the shortfall he would experience if he left Penrith to play for one of these other clubs,'' Gould said.
''Naturally, I informed his manager Panthers would not be contributing anything like that amount for him to play with another club. I told them his new club would have to pay if they wanted his services. Michael is in our salary cap for season 2013 and we are under no pressure to move any player at this time.''
While he didn't name the clubs, Gould admitted he was approached by two Sydney clubs before Christmas, inquiring about Jennings's contract situation.
''I was asked if I would release Michael if they could strike a deal,'' Gould said. ''I told them I would not stand in Michael's way provided Michael was happy with the deal and wanted to leave.
''Please read my lips. We have never shopped Michael to other clubs and we did not instigate these latest approaches.''
While the Roosters are confident of attracting Jennings to Bondi, Gould said he had been told that the Australian international would see out the final three years of his contract at Penrith.
Roosters boss Brian Canavan said he would sit down with recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan and coach Trent Robinson to weigh up the options.
''We are interested in Michael but we have to see what happens between his management and Penrith,'' Canavan said. ''We haven't spoken about money.''