Will Smith keen to stay as Panthers build towards 2016

Keen to stay: Will Smith (pictured against North Queensland in 2014) in un-signed for next year but hopes to stay with the Panthers. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Keen to stay: Will Smith (pictured against North Queensland in 2014) in un-signed for next year but hopes to stay with the Panthers. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Will Smith is one of a number of Penrith Panthers players who will use the last two rounds of the season to push his case for a new contract next year.

The 23-year-old utility has played 15 games for the Panthers since making his debut last year.

Although five-eighth is his preferred position, he has got his chance in the number one jersey on the back of injuries to Matt Moylan and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Smith said he was just happy to be getting game time in the top grade and will play wherever the club needs him.

Smith is a Newcastle junior, but has adjusted to life in western Sydney and hopes to remain a Panther in 2016.

Fresh prince: Penrith Panthers utility Will Smith wants to remain at the foot of the mountain next year. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

Fresh prince: Penrith Panthers utility Will Smith wants to remain at the foot of the mountain next year. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

"I'd love to stay here, it's a good club, they've looked after me and my family," he said.

"I want to play the rest of the year in first grade, then try pre-season if I re-sign here.

"Hopefully, I have a big off-season, come back next year and hopefully I get a starting spot."

Smith, Sam Anderson, Adam Docker, Leilani Latu and David Simmons, who have all played in the NRL this year, are among the Panthers players who are still without a contract for next year.

Isaac John has already indicated he will not be at the Panthers next year but is yet to sign with another club.

NSW Cup players Rodney Coates, Adrian Davis, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Shaun Spence are the others who are yet to re-sign.

In other player movements, Lewis Brown and Api Koroisau will link up with Trent Barrett at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Kieran Moss has signed with Parramatta, and Sika Manu is off to Hull FC in the European Super League.

Veteran forwards Brent Kite and Nigel Plum have both retired from the game.

Heading our way: Trent Merrin will join the Penrith Panthers in 2016. Picture: Adam McLean.

Heading our way: Trent Merrin will join the Penrith Panthers in 2016. Picture: Adam McLean.

Representative forward Trent Merrin is the most notable gain for the Panthers, but there will be a number of other new faces in 2016.

French international and Catalan Dragons back-rower Ben Garcia will try his luck in the NRL, while a host of promising youngsters will look to make the jump from Holden Cup.

Zach Dockar-Clay (Parramatta Eels) and Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers) are both Junior Kiwis representatives, while front-rower Viliame Kikau (North Queensland Cowboys) has already played a Test match for Fiji.

Canberra Raiders utility back Andrew Heffernan will also join the club.

The Panthers now have a big turnaround from Thursday's scrappy 19-12 loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons.

They will play the Canberra Raiders in Monday night football at GIO Stadium on August 31.

As usual this season, there is more bad news on the injury front, with stand-in skipper Elijah Taylor out for the last two games with a suspected broken hand, while fullback Matt Moylan has been officially ruled out for the remainder of the year.

The story Where there's a Will there's a Smith eager to stay with club first appeared on Penrith City Gazette.

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