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Ivan Cleary insists Penrith's close junior ties can stop Viliame Kikau's impending exit forming part of a deluge of premiership players leaving the NRL club.
But the Panthers coach concedes he won't judge those who do go for more money elsewhere.
Just a day after a leaked photo showed him in Canterbury colours, Kikau was booed by small sections of the crowd at Penrith's premiership celebrations on Saturday.
Both Cleary and Kikau have insisted he will remain at Penrith for 2022, before heading to the Bulldogs in 2023 on a four-year deal.
Realistically, the Panthers had long known they couldn't match the money being offered to Kikau by other clubs.
"We pretty much knew (we'd lose him). Emotionally you don't want to accept it," Cleary said.
"Yesterday was sobering that the reality (set in).
"What he has done is shored up his future for his family. He's about to have his first child.
"When you get those sorts of numbers thrown at you, you'd be mad not to (take it).
Kikau's contract is far from the last problem Penrith have.
In the last three years Cleary estimates they have had 15 players sign the biggest deals of their careers at the club, and those prices will only rise.
Four players have already left from last month's grand-final team for 2023, while Dylan Edwards and Apisai Koroisau are now effectively free agents.
But Penrith have otherwise managed to re-sign the likes of Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, James Fisher-Harris and Isaah Yeo in the past year.
"We've already had a few guys sign on again and certainly taken less than what they could have got elsewhere, particularly last year," Cleary said.
"It's tough because you're only in the game for so long. It's a balancing act.
"One thing that is for sure is all the guys who have left or are leaving, ideally they would have liked to stay. You can't keep them all.
"Our mandate is to grow our own players, that will continue to happen and we need it to happen."
Penrith's roster has only shaped as half of the fallout from their grand-final win.
Cleary on Saturday opted not to talk about the axed Tyrone May, other than to say he'll "always support him".
The coach was also unsure whether Koroisau would receive his COVID-19 jab, after his unvaccinated status meant he couldn't attend Saturday's celebrations.
But Cleary did defend his players' Mad Monday celebrations, which resulted in fines after photos were posted with a broken trophy.
"They're good kids. I'm very proud of the culture we've been able to build," Cleary said.
"I was actually there when most people who commented on this weren't there.
"I'm extremely proud of the way the boys celebrated together. It was probably the best Mad Monday I've been involved in.
"I get it, there are things that pop up on social media that are interpreted a certain way ... but I'm super proud of our boys."