Mansour replacement unfazed by new NRL gig

Charlie Staines has been earmarked to fill the big boots of Josh Mansour at Penrith.
Charlie Staines has been earmarked to fill the big boots of Josh Mansour at Penrith.

If the burden of replacing a beloved Penrith legend weighs on his mind, Charlie Staines isn't showing it.

Following the Panthers' grand final loss to Melbourne, Ivan Cleary met with Josh Mansour to tell him the 20-year-old would be taking his spot on the left wing.

The 'Forbes Ferarri' is a stoic character, but reading about the conversation in the newspaper cracked even this casually confident kid.

Because it was the first he'd heard of it.

"It came out about Mansour and the conversation he had with Ivan, but it was a bit of a shock really," he told AAP on Monday.

"I didn't really know before that.

"I was excited but gutted for Sauce (Mansour), because he's a good bloke.

"But I'm trying to take that wing spot with both hands."

After scoring six tries in two games last season it was almost impossible not to find a place for the young speedster in the side.

Mansour had played nine years on that wing but is now at South Sydney, so the pressure is seemingly on Staines to replicate his own strike rate in 2021.

Newly crowned skipper Nathan Cleary knows all about pressure but has no concerns it will bog down his young winger.

"I think Charlie will be all right. I don't know if you've spoken to him much but he's a pretty cool cat," he said.

"That's just him, he's pretty relaxed.

"Charlie will handle himself.

"It's always tough losing someone like Sauce, such a big part of the club but now that the young buck comes in and showed last year, he played 120 minutes or something and scored six tries."

Days before Mansour sat down with Cleary, Staines watched the grand final loss from behind the Panthers bench with the rest of the reserve grade side.

He didn't know then what would transpire, but he's ready to throw it all at a title push in 2021.

"I feel very confident in this team and in my self as well," he said.

"We're going to go to another level this year. I can feel it with the vibes around the club.

"We're not cocky, we're confident in our ability as a team.

"This year it's going to drive us even more."

Australian Associated Press