Panthers enforcer Spencer Leniu is refusing to rush into contract talks, despite growing interest in his signature for 2024 and beyond.
The 22-year-old has cemented himself as one of the best young front-rowers in the competition, playing 62 games since his debut in 2019 and featuring in both of Penrith’s back-to-back premierships.
Leniu has attracted plenty of interest in recent months, with clubs such as the Bulldogs and Dragons linked to the Samoan international for next season.
Speaking to The Sporting News following the shock World Club Challenge loss to St Helens, Leniu said his management have put any contract talks on hold in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
MORE: Penrith Panthers 2023 season preview | Tigers re-sign Doueihi until end of 2024
“I’m not too sure right now,” he said.
“My manager is still sorting all that stuff out. My main focus is just trying to get the job done for these boys here.
“Honestly, I just told my manager I wanted to focus on this week and we will talk about it after.
“I haven’t heard about any offers just yet.”
Penrith have been able to retain the majority of their premiership-winning stars beyond 2023, with just Leniu and second-rower Scott Sorensen without deals for next year.
The club have been forced into multiple changes this season, with star duo Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau both moving on to the Tigers and Bulldogs respectively.
Leniu admits that their losses will leave a major hole in the Panthers side this year, but expects new faces such as Luke Garner, Zac Hosking and Soni Luke to make a significant impact.
“Obviously it’s a really big loss [Koroisau], but we’ve got full faith in Mitch and Soni to come in and fill those shoes,” he said.
“They have been the apprentices of Api the past couple of years and I’m sure they are going to shine this year.
“They have fitted in really well [Hosking and Garner]…I thought both of them did their jobs really well tonight.
“They are really big shoes to fill, but they are different styles of players.”
As for the shock loss to the Super League giants, Leniu was full of praise for the opposition forward pack.
“Nothing really surprised me – they are just a gritty team and they turned up a bit more ruthless than us and that’s why they got it over us,” he said.
“It was definitely one of the more physical games I have played. Hats off to their forwards, they really took it to us.
“We are going to take a lot of lessons from this game and work towards next week and the week after leading into another physical game against the Broncos.”