AAP Rugby

Barrett reunion lured Koroisau to Penrith

By AAP Newswire

Api Koroisau has revealed he almost signed with Canterbury but it was the chance to reunite with mentors Ivan Cleary and Trent Barrett in particular that finally swayed him to return to Penrith.

Koroisau looms as a pivotal piece for the Panthers next season following the departure of a handful of starting-calibre NRL players over the summer including internationals James Maloney and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

And he arrives with a point to prove after being told he was free to look elsewhere by Manly after they identified Manase Fainu as their long-term hooker.

Speaking before Fainu was charged by police over the knife attack in Sydney's southwest that has raised serious doubts about his NRL future, Koroisau admitted being stung by his release.

"Of course it hurt but you can't let that get you down. It's how you react after that is the most important thing," he told AAP.

"At the end of the day, someone not wanting you is always going to be some kind of downfall but I was really privileged, really lucky.

"A lot of clubs put their hand up and I didn't have a problem finding a new home."

Leading the chase were the Bulldogs, while the Warriors also came calling.

"There was plenty of talk. I had a meeting with the Bulldogs the first week everything came out and then New Zealand as well," he said.

The impending arrival of a second child meant the 27-year-old wasn't keen on leaving Sydney but there was a bigger factor that lured him to Penrith.

Koroisau had previously played 16 games in his lone season there in 2015. It was the same year Cleary was shown the door as head coach.

However also there at the time as Cleary's assistant was Barrett, who ended up luring the Fijian international to Manly the following year.

Barrett, was of course himself pushed out of Brookvale in mid-2018.

With the musical chairs hopefully finally over and done with, Koroisau, Cleary and Barrett are now all back together at the Panthers, with Barrett again crucial in recruiting the dynamic rake.

"It was close between a few clubs there but 'Baz' was massive in bringing me to Penrith," said Koroisau, who will commute from the northern beaches.

"He's the one that took me to Manly. He had enough faith in me to be able to do my job. It means a lot to all players, knowing that your coach believes in you.

"For him to ask me to come back to Penrith (with him), I was definitely keen to put my hand up. I'm looking forward to what we can produce together."

Koroisau begins his pre-season at Penrith next month.