Home Sports Panthers coach Ivan Cleary reveals the reason he made the surprising decision to leave out Sunia Turuva against the Cowboys.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary reveals the reason he made the surprising decision to leave out Sunia Turuva against the Cowboys.

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Ivan Cleary (pictured) has revealed he left out Sunia Turuva for the game against the Cowboys because contract negotiations had taken an emotional toll on the youngster.
  • Cleary says he fired Turuva for mental exhaustion
  • Turuva signed with the Tigers this week for three years
  • The winger will leave the Panthers at the end of the year

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary revealed he left out Sunia Turuva for Saturday night’s game against the Cowboys because her contract negotiations had taken an emotional toll on the youngster.

Earlier this week, the Tigers confirmed they had signed the 21-year-old winger to a three-year contract starting next year, worth an estimated $1.3 million.

Just hours before Penrith took the field against the Cowboys, Turuva was sacked and replaced by Paul Alamoti.

“Sunia didn’t play mainly because she was deciding on her contract and still negotiating,” Cleary said.

‘So it was something that’s been going on for a few weeks. I think people don’t understand how much that can cost someone, especially a young person with such an important decision.

Ivan Cleary (pictured) has revealed he left out Sunia Turuva for the game against the Cowboys because contract negotiations had taken an emotional toll on the youngster.

Earlier this week, the Tigers confirmed they had signed the 21-year-old winger to a three-year deal starting next year.

Earlier this week, the Tigers confirmed they had signed the 21-year-old winger to a three-year deal starting next year.

‘Not only from a professional point of view but also emotionally. That’s why we gave him the night off.

“He’ll be back next week.”

Turuva will become the latest high-profile Panther to join the Tigers, following the arrival of Apisai Koroisau last year and Luai’s deal starting in 2025.

Brent Naden and Charlie Staines are among other former Penrith players in the joint venture.

Turuva had indicated last month that his main preference was to stay at Penrith, where he was the NRL rookie of the year last season in the club’s premiership race.

‘I want to be part of this team. “It’s a special group we have here, no matter who puts on the jersey,” Turuva said at the time.

“I just want to be part of this club.

‘I left it to my manager and Penrith to organize all that stuff. But I’ve said it before: Penrith House. This is where I want to be.’

The talented Fiji international will become the latest high-profile Panther to join the Tigers.

The talented Fiji international will become the latest high-profile Panther to join the Tigers.

But the Panthers were unable to offer the Fiji international the same money he could earn elsewhere, and Penrith were unwilling to budge on their $350,000-a-year offer to remain on the wing.

A growing fullback, Turuva is likely to remain in the Tigers’ wing, where rising star Jahream Bula will command the No. 1 jersey.

Turuva’s move to the Tigers means St George Illawarra has been left out, after the 21-year-old rejoined the Dragons earlier this month.

With Zac Lomax leaving the Red V at the end of this year, Turuva had been seen as an option to replace him on the Dragons wing.

Turuva is the NRL’s leading try scorer in the first seven rounds, with eight in six games.

He scored 12 in his rookie season in 2023.

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