South Sydney have bolstered their bid for the 2021 NRL title by signing unwanted Penrith winger Josh Mansour on a two-year-deal.
The 30-year-old returns to the Rabbitohs, where he starred in the under-20s, after being told he was not needed by the Panthers just days after their grand final loss in October.
The move comes after the Rabbitohs released talented outside back Corey Allan to Canterbury earlier this week, putting Mansour in the frame for a spot on the wing.
He will join Queensland forward Jai Arrow as the new additions to Wayne Bennett’s roster as they push for an NRL premiership.
“He knows what our club is about and respects the tradition and history of South Sydney, as well as the community that the club represents,” Rabbitohs’ head of football Mark Ellison said.
“We reluctantly let Josh go in 2012 after playing a key role in our 2010 NYC grand final team and it is fantastic to have this opportunity to bring him back to South Sydney for 2021.
“That opportunity to bring him back would not be there if it wasn’t for Corey Allan moving on, another player who, like Josh in 2012, is moving on for opportunities elsewhere.
“We’re really excited to bringing a player of Josh’s ability and character back to our club and we can’t wait to see him earn the right to pull on the Rabbitohs first grade jersey that eluded him a decade ago.”
It’s understood the Panthers will chip in a portion of Mansour’s 2021 salary after releasing him from the final year of his contract.
The veteran played 158 games for Penrith after making his debut in 2012, going on to play seven Tests for Australia and three Origin matches for NSW.
During that time he became a fan favourite and was shocked to be told he would not be playing first grade for Penrith this year as they prioritise the development of youth.
“While this isn’t an ending I ever envisaged, I’ve made peace with the decision and I’m ready to move forward with a new challenge,” Mansour said.
“I want to thank the club and the fans for their incredible support through the ups and downs of the last nine years.
“I’m so grateful for every moment and everything Panthers has given me and my family.
“Whatever the future holds, I’ll always consider myself a Panther and be proud of what I achieved at the club.”