Penrith’s horror 2019 season has gone from bad to worse, with star winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak today requesting an immediate release from his contract following his shock omission ahead of Thursdays’ clash with Parramatta.
Coach Ivan Cleary had swung the axe on representative players a week prior, but made headlines yesterday when he elected to leave Watene-Zelezniak – the captain of New Zealand’s international side – out of the lineup altogether for tomorrow’s big game.
In fact, neither Dallin nor his brother Malakai will play in any grade for Penrith this weekend.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that both Parramatta and North Queensland are interested in the 23-year-old.
The news comes as a rude shock to Penrith supporters ruing the club’s terrible start to the season. After a tumultuous offseason following coach Anthony Griffin’s stunning sacking late in the season, the poaching of Ivan Cleary – largely believed to bolster the club’s chances of retaining star halfback Nathan, his son – has proved a massive flop.
Last year’s semi-finalists have won just two of their first ten matches to sit last on the ladder, with the form of both Cleary and his halves partner James Maloney very worrying.
Penrith have confirmed the news, issuing the following statement;
“Earlier this week, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s management sought permission from Panthers to speak with other NRL clubs regarding Dallin’s immediate and future playing career.
This permission was granted following discussions by the club’s retention and recruitment committee.
Out of respect for all parties, the club will be making no further comment at this time.”