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The Panthers are on the cusp of history, but keeping their “$15 million” squad together could prove tougher than winning a second straight grand final on Sunday.


Penrith are contesting their third straight decider and trying to become just the second club in NRL history to win-back-to-back premierships.


But success comes at a cost and their salary cap squeeze is only getting tighter, with Viliame Kikau (Bulldogs) and Api Koroisau (Tigers) both departing after the grand final.

Stephen Crichton, Liam Martin, Brian To’o, Scott Sorensen and Spencer Leniu can all start negotiating with rival clubs for the 2024 season from November 1.


Panthers icon Scott Sattler told the salary cap will “serve its purpose” and he tipped more stars to leave the club next season.


But is it a problem Penrith can overcome thanks to their conveyor belt of junior talent?


Local juniors make up more than half the side facing the Parramatta Eels on Sunday as the Panthers attempt to become the first club in history to win all four grades.


“If they do win this week, they become one of the great teams,” Braith Anasta said.


“However, the more success the more you pay the price with the salary cap – but they’ve done an amazing job to turn it into a powerhouse.”

Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould accused the Titans of creating a “false economy” in the player market by paying backrower David Fifta $1.25 million per season.


Gould called the decision “reckless” and emphasised it had ramifications for clubs across the NRL as player managers inflated their client’s price tags.


The former Panthers general manager had no issues with Fifita taking the money but said the contract had been detrimental to the game.


Fifita has failed to live up the billing and Sattler agreed the controversial deal disrupted the entire player market.


“Gus hit the nail on the head… that David Fifita signing sent the market into a spiral,” Sattler told


“We started comparing players, especially in forwards positions to what David signed on at the Gold Coast Titans so it made a false economy.


“The salary cap will do what it was intended to do. You’ll have players who want to stay together and others who chase bigger contracts at clubs which have the space.

Here breaks down the value of the Panthers squad and the salary cap pressures which winning creates.

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