Penrith will lose two champions next season and one of them is quickly realizing that the grass will no longer be green away from the two-time premier in office.
The Panthers dominated Parramatta 28-12 in Sunday’s NRL Grand Final to emphatically claim consecutive premierships.
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But the win was a bittersweet opportunity for striker Viliame Kikau and hooker Api Koroisau, who will join the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers respectively next year.
Kikau was in tears on the pitch when he agreed to play his last game for Penrith.
Koroisau, considered one of the best hookers in the NRL, earned his third premiership after consecutive titles with the Panthers and his first triumph with the Rabbitohs in 2014.
The 29-year-old was showing off his three premiership rings during post-match celebrations on the pitch when he paired a cheeky sled.
In a video posted on social media, someone overheard Koroisau say: “Last, don’t get them from the Tigers.”
Koroisau joins the Tigers on a two-year deal and seemed to regret his decision as Penrith’s celebrations continued on Monday.
He was asked on stage at Panthers Stadium how he felt about leaving to join the Tigers, who hadn’t made it to the final since 2011.
“This place has been amazing for the last three years I’ve been here. It has turned into a family for me, ”Koroisau said.
“There is so much young talent. Going out in a high like that is pretty incredible, and I’ll probably do the same thing to the Tigers, ”she added sarcastically, before bursting into a chuckle.
After the win, Penrith manager Ivan Cleary confessed that the club would not be able to replace Koroisau.
“It makes people feel good, everyone plays better when he’s out there and he’s had an amazing season,” he said.
“We will not be able to replace him”.
Having won 67 of the NRL’s last 78 games, the Panthers have already been billed as favorites to take next year’s premiership and become the first club to achieve the feat in 40 years.
“We only take it one day at a time,” Cleary said.
“I don’t give a damn about next year, we’ll have fun tonight.
“It has been an incredible season for our club. It has never been done before, four classes.
“It’s hard to put it in words other than saying how proud we are all.
“Our club is very aligned. Everyone is his person, but we are all woven together by a common thread in trying to do our best for the club ”.
Originally released as Departing Panthers premiership star Api Koroisau taunted the Wests Tigers