Penrith will not enter into a bidding war with Wests Tigers for Jarome Luai, with the Panthers unlikely to increase their current offer for the star five-eighth.
The Tigers are expected to offer Luai a deal worth as much as $4.4 million over four seasons, after Benji Marshall met with the Panthers No.6 to talk about 2025 and beyond.
The deal would make Luai the face of the Wests Tigers and hand him the responsibility of helping drag the club back from 12 years of on-field misery.
It would also significantly trump the offer made by Penrith last month in a financial sense, given the three-time defending premiers' pitch is worth $1.7 million over two seasons.
There had been some thought the Panthers could try and close the gap slightly on any big-money offer from a rival.
If the Tigers offer their deal as expected, Luai would have to give up $250,000 a season to stay at the Panthers, along with the security of a longer contract at Concord.
But AAP has been told there is no plan for the Panthers to increase their financial offer.
Penrith already used up some wriggle room in increasing their offer to Luai from $800,000 to $850,000 last month.
That deal remains on the table and as far as Penrith are concerned Luai is able to accept it at any point with no deadline in place.
If Luai was to be won over by the Tigers, Penrith would still have 10 days to try and convince the 26-year-old to stay at the foot of the mountains under new NRL rules.
But the club has long maintained they will not blow their budget on any one player, having been able to continue to regenerate success during their current run.
"This club and the team has had over the past few years has been built on some really disciplined salary cap decisions," football boss Matt Cameron said earlier this month.
Luai has previously admitted he is weighing up a decision between "success or family", also noting he has close childhood friends at the Panthers.
In recent years some have taken bigger-money offers elsewhere, including Stephen Crichton and Spencer Leniu this year to Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters respectively.
Penrith have repeatedly backed their ability to rely on young players coming through, having also lost the likes of Viliame Kikau, Apisai Koroisau, Kurt Capewell and Matt Burton since the end of 2021.
If Penrith were to lose Luai, 20-year-old Orange product Jack Cole is seen as a future option at five-eighth, while the club has made a habit of using journeymen there in the past.
Jack Cogger starred at five-eighth when he came on late in Penrith's grand-final comeback, but he has moved to Newcastle for 2024.
Australian Associated Press