New faces aid Penrith's strong NRL start - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New faces aid Penrith's strong NRL start

By Ian McCullough 17/04/2010 11:50:48 AM Comments (0)

It took just three games for Penrith to realise new signing Kevin Kingston needed to be tied to a long-term deal with the NRL club.

Forced out of Parramatta due to salary cap issues, Kingston, who played a major role in the Eels' fairytale run to the grand final last year, signed a 12-month contract with the Panthers last October, only to be upgraded to a three-year agreement earlier this month.

And while his former club has struggled, especially out of dummy half, with halfback Jeff Robson being moved into the No.9 shirt in an attempt to kick-start their season, Kingston has maintained his form from last year with the Panthers.

And coach Matt Elliott believes the hooker's displays have been a key factor in his side's best start to a season since he took over in 2007.

Penrith, who have won their past two games and sit in eighth spot on the ladder, put their 3-2 record on the line against the sixth-placed Warriors in Auckland on Sunday, and Elliott is reasonably happy with the start to the season, and how well his new recruits have settled in at the club.

"We recognised really quickly what quality Kevin brings to us, I think he is someone who can become the core of our team for many years and we were happy to tie him up for another couple of years," Elliott told AAP.

"It's been fantastic what all of the new guys have brought to the club, Travis Burns was outstanding for us in the halves before he got injured a couple of weeks back and we have also signed him for another three years and I'm excited about where we are at with our squad."

Penrith chief executive Mick Leary said the decision to upgrade the contracts of Burns and Kingston was a reward for the players' decision to take the gamble of signing a short-term contract, instead of looking elsewhere for more money.

"Kevin was outstanding for Parramatta last year but we only offered him a one-year deal, but he signed it because he wanted to play for us, as did Travis," Leary told AAP.

"At the time, we said to both Kevin and Travis, who didn't really have the best of times up at North Queensland, that we would look after them if they did well.

"They held up their side of the bargain and we were happy to secure their services for longer, as they are outstanding players."

Leary said the policy of offering players short-term contracts with the incentive of an improved deal if they perform, is something he might look to continue to do in the future.

"Obviously, different cases have different situations when it comes to contracts, but hunger and desire are two very strong attributes in any sport and we believe the guys we have signed in the off-season have that," he said.

"Matt, the coaching staff and the board, want a team that has driven individuals who want to win and we believe we are building a team that has that."

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