Sunia Turuva celebrates grand final success with Penrith in 2023.
Sunia Turuva celebrates grand final success with Penrith in 2023. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Grim finals stat for ex-Panthers as Turuva mulls future

Jasper Bruce April 3, 2024

Isaah Yeo has urged off-contract Sunia Turuva not to take Penrith’s winning ways for granted as statistics reveal a grim finals outlook for players leaving the all-conquering Panthers.

Since Penrith surged to premiership dominance during the 2020 season, 26 players have left the club and signed with an NRL rival – only three have played finals again.

While Penrith have underlined their dominance with a third straight premiership, Kurt Capewell, Jack Hetherington and Paul Momirovski are the only former Panthers to have featured in the play-offs after leaving.

Even then, only Warriors second-rower Capewell has made it past the second week, with runners-up Brisbane last season.

Kurt Capewell runs with the ball for Brisbane in the 2023 grand final.
 Former Panther Kurt Capewell bucked a trend by appearing for Brisbane in last year’s grand final. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS 

While seven of the 26 are currently playing their first NRL season away from Penrith, three of 19 still represents a less than 16 per cent chance of playing in the post-season after parting ways with the Panthers.

Turuva is the latest player earning the attention of the Panthers’ retention department.

The 2023 premiership-winning winger, who has already declared Penrith ‘home’, is off contract at the end of the current season.

But he has been linked with a move to St George Illawarra, who have space in their backline and the money to offer a pay rise having announced Zac Lomax will leave the club in 2025.

Turuva, 21, is not the first faced with a decision between a beefier pay packet and the chance for more success at the Panthers.

The longest-serving player on Penrith’s roster, Yeo warned it would be easy for less experienced Panthers to forget winning trophies is not the norm in the NRL.

Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo with the trophy after the 2021 grand final
 Winning trophies is not a given in the NRL, Penrith skipper Isaah Yeo (r) says. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS 

“A lot of these boys have come in and had success off the bounce,” he told AAP at the NRL’s launch of the Telstra Country Footy Series.

“My first year I played about 10 games and we made a prelim (in 2014), then the year after we were in the wooden spoon play-off game. 

“It was us and the Knights, and whoever lost that game got the spoon. That’s certainly not fun. 

“(Players) need to know how lucky we are at the moment and the position we’re in

“If people want to go for opportunities or money, I totally understand that. It’s a big business. 

“But winning certainly fixes a lot of things.”

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards said Turuva is “a valued member of our squad and our club. Hopefully he can get a deal done”.

“You want everyone to stay but in the salary-cap era, you can’t keep everyone,” he said.



Jack Hetherington (two games, Newcastle 2023)

Kurt Capewell (three games, Brisbane 2023)

Paul Momirovski (two games, Sydney Roosters 2022 and 2023) 


Josh Mansour 

James Tamou

Caleb Aekins

Daine Laurie

Billy Burns

Brayden McGrady

Tevita Pangai Jr 

Matt Burton 

Brent Naden

J’Maine Hopgood

Robert Jennings

Isaiya Katoa

Viliame Kikau

Api Koroisau

Sean O’Sullivan

Charlie Staines

Stephen Crichton*

Jaeman Salmon*

Jack Cogger*

Spencer Leniu*

Zane Tetevano*

Zac Hosking*

Tom Jenkins*

(* Players in their first NRL season since leaving the Panthers)