Inside job: Bulldog Barrett targets star Panthers duo
Matt Burton is already a key target, and now Canterbury has drawn up a Panthers priority list which includes NSW State of Origin stars Stephen Crichton and Isaah Yeo.
It comes after the Bulldogs signed Penrith assistant Trent Barrett as head coach and aggressive Panthers forward Jack Hetherington.
While Burton is Canterbury's main choice, the Bulldogs are closely monitoring Crichton and Yeo, who come off contract after next season.
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The developments come as Canterbury confirmed the signing of Sydney Roosters halfback Kyle Flanagan to a three-year deal. A Burton-Flanagan halves combination could potentially lift Canterbury into a top eight contender.
All NRL players coming off contract after next season can be officially approached from this Sunday.
Should they sign Burton, Canterbury hope he may arrive for next season although there is no indication Penrith would offer an early release.
The Daily Telegraph has also learnt Melbourne, North Queensland and Wests Tigers have an interest in Burton. Barrett was at Canterbury's Belmore headquarters on Monday but after a long year at Penrith has taken a week's holiday. He has a strong relationship with all Panthers players. Penrith has the most talent of any NRL club coming off contract after next year, including Burton, Crichton, Yeo, Jarome Luai, Kurt Capewell, Mitch Kenny, Spencer Leniu, Brent Naden, Josh Mansour and Zane Tetevano.
Yeo and Crichton could command salaries of between $500,000 and $600,000 a season. The Panthers are desperately hoping to retain all their grand finals stars.
Crichton's brother, Bulldogs winger, Christian, comes off contract at Belmore after next season. While wanting to be strategic, Canterbury will have some cash to splash for 2022. Other NRL star players coming off after next season include Kotoni Staggs, Dale Finucane, Jahrome Hughes, Mitchell Pearce, Nathan Brown, Blake Ferguson, Maika Sivo, Jarome Luai, Dane Gagai, Adam Reynolds, Junior Tatola, Cameron McInnes, Corey Norman, Angus Crichton, James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou and David Nofoaluma,
They can receive offers from midnight on Sunday. Tedesco is shortly expected to announce a new five-year, $6m deal at Bondi.
Canterbury remains hopeful but not overly confident of signing Melbourne and NSW star Josh Addo-Carr. The club is insisting they have not yet made him an offer.
Addo-Carr is attracted to South Sydney but would be unable to play his preferred fullback spot at Redfern because of good mate, Latrell Mitchell. Wests Tigers also remain a chance of signing Addo-Carr.
Barrett is a huge fan of Addo-Carr. All negotiations have been delayed given Addo-Carr will be in NSW camp for the next four weeks.
Canterbury confirmed 22-year-old Flanagan's signing on Tuesday morning.
"Kyle is a quality all-round footballer, who will bring game management and a strong kicking component to our halves, as well as having the potential to grow as a player under Trent Barrett and his coaching staff," said Bulldogs CEO, Andrew Hill.
"We are putting together a squad that has the right qualities and everyone is excited about getting back together for the pre-season in what we believe is a new beginning for the club. We can't wait for Kyle to be a part of that."
Originally published as Inside job: Bulldog Barrett targets star Panthers duo