The Rabbitohs have snapped up unwanted Panthers winger Josh Mansour as the NRL’s transfer market whirs back into overdrive.
Mansour will join the Rabbitohs immediately, on a two-year deal, after the 30-year-old’s dream of finishing his career at Penrith went up in smoke when he was told after last year’s grand final that he was no longer part of coach Ivan Cleary’s plans.
Mansour and the Rabbitohs confirmed the news this afternoon, with the player tweeting a thank you to his supporters during his nine seasons at the foot of the mountains.
In a press statement sent out by the Rabbitohs, Mansour was described as “a natural leader” and “one of the most passionate and respected players in the game”.
And Rabbitohs head of football Mark Ellison welcomed the signing.
“Josh is a highly experienced NRL and representative player that will bring many attributes to our team, the club and our community,” Ellison said.
“He is a high work rate winger who is one of the competition’s leading players in terms of kick return metres, as well as a renowned finisher.
“More importantly he is a quality team and club man that inspires his team mates and brings energy to any team of which he is a part.”
Mansour will arrive at Redfern as a like-for-like replacement for emerging star Corey Allan, who was this week signed by the Bulldogs after a breakout 2020 that included an Origin debut in Queensland’s series clinching Game Three victory in November.
As the news of the signing first broke, Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett told The Courier Mail the club had “got lucky” to be in the market for a winger when Mansour became available.
“We just got lucky there, he became available and the opportunity came up to grab him so we’ve done that. We’re just building our depth,” Bennett said.
Mansour played 158 games for the Panthers and scored 74 tries for the club. He was a mainstay in last season’s runaway minor premiership side and started on the left wing in their grand final loss to the Storm.
Yet the former Test and NSW Origin star faced a season on the sidelines in 2021 had he not asked for a release following Cleary’s decision to go in a different direction.
Mansour was a South Sydney junior but never played first grade for the club, instead moving to Penrith where he looked as though he would finish his career a one-club player.
The veteran will be favoured to claim a spot on the wing in the Rabbitohs’ first-choice backline this year following the off-season departures of Allan and James Roberts.