Despite a disastrous 2011 campaign and many suggesting an even worst 2012, the Penrith Panthers have re-signed much maligned playmaker Luke Walsh for another three years. There are no guarantees in the National Rugby League and only time will tell if Walsh lasts at the foot of the mountains.
In a somewhat confusing move from the Panthers, Luke Walsh has been gift wrapped a brand new contract despite Penrith’s 12th place finish last season.
Walsh joined the club from Newcastle in 2009 and steered his new team to an 11th finish and a 2nd place finish in 2010. A year in which Penrith overachieved.
The scary signs for Panthers fans came last year when their reliance on the attacking kick found them out. Opposition coaches had them scouted and Walsh was a sitting duck.
Walsh is obviously delighted with the decision.
“It’s great Ivan (Cleary) and the coaching staff have shown such confidence in me. I can’t wait to repay them on the field.”
The Newcastle native done as much on Friday night helping Penrith defeat arch rivals Parramatta 26-10 at CUA Stadium.
“I find it pretty easy. We haven’t got much of a game plan actually, Ivan’s just told us to play what you see and that’s how it should be. That suits our game and it suits our team.”
But sources close to the club have suggested that Walsh wasn’t the first choice at all.
“The club wanted Peter Wallace back” one source said.
“But when that stalled they snapped up Walsh for half the price”.
If Walsh was not your first choice at halfback and therefore not in your plans going forward, do you give him a three year contract extension?
What if the Panthers struggle and Walsh doesn’t perform?
Penrith are going through a rebuilding stage from the bottom up. General Manager Phil Gould and new coach Ivan Cleary have one of the biggest jobs in Australian sport ahead of them. Understandably in a result driven business, contract announcements are always a good thing.
But if their season nosedives, some of the blame will go on the shoulders of Walsh. Recent history has shown that contracts mean nothing in the NRL.
It is off course only February and the NRL season hasn’t even started yet. But know this, 2012 will make or break Luke Walsh. Shiny new contract or not.
This article was originally posted on FootySocial.com.au