In the game of rugby league players, you have players that you associate with one team, and expect them to play their entire careers at one club. For the most part, they do that – with the likes of Nathan Hindmarsh, Darren Lockyer, Paul Gallen, Luke Burt, all club legends for one club.
You could have put Panthers lock Luke Lewis in that mold, but the stalwart has made the decision to leave the club – with the Panthers granting him a release from the final 2 years of his contract, to allow Lewis to find a new club.
Lewis felt the time was as good as any, to give himself a new challenge in the NRL, and he felt like he had offered everything to the Panthers that he could.
“Luke has indicated he is at the stage of his career where he’s feeling stale and as such is looking for a new outlook and challenge in his life,” Gould said at Panthers headquarters.
“Luke feels as though he has given the Panthers all he can, but at this stage of his career he feels he needs a change of environment to achieve his goals.”
Lewis, who is in his 11th season with the Panthers, is believed to have been annoyed at Panthers coach Ivan Cleary for stripping the captaincy from him – with tensions boiling from there.
Despite a multitude of reports linking Lewis to the Sharks or Dragons, he denied that – saying that he was yet to talk with any other club about his future.
“I need a whole new change of life with the way my head is at the moment but I have no idea what my next move will be,” Lewis said.
“When the captaincy stuff happened, it was a bit of a hiccup that you get in football. It didn’t really bother me I was over it a couple of days later.”
Whilst the decision was a tough one for him, it came during the second Origin series, as he realised it was something that he had to do.
“It probably hit me around game two of Origin,” he said.
“But I wanted to focus on my football and my plan was when I got out of camp I would talk to my manager and the Penrith club and make sure there were no hard feelings.
“I’d never thought I would leave, but I think the best thing for me to do as a player and for the club is to move on.”
Despite reports suggesting that there was a clause in Lewis’s release that he was not to sign with any NRL rivals -Panthers General Manager Gus Gould denied such a thing.
“We’ve got no control over where Luke plays his football now,” Gould said.
“I’ve asked Luke and his manager to keep me abreast of the situation.”