Matt Moylan to leave Penrith Panthers and join the Cronulla Sharks

The swap is on: Matt Moylan and James Maloney. Photo: NRL Imagery
The swap is on: Matt Moylan and James Maloney. Photo: NRL Imagery

Three months of speculation over the NRL future of Matt Moylan is over, with Cronulla confirming his signing on a four-year deal.

Penrith officially released their captain on Thursday before the Sharks unveiled the former Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin star on their website.

Moylan spoke briefly about the move, saying he was keen to impress for his new club next season as the likely replacement for five-eighth James Maloney.

Penrith are expected to confirm a swap-deal involving Maloney in the next 24 hours.

"It's a new chapter in my career and I'm looking forward to getting out here and playing some good footy," Moylan said.

"I'm excited about the new opportunity and wherever I end up playing I'll be happy. Hopefully I can have a good off-season and hit the ground running."

"It's a new chapter in my career and I'm looking forward to getting out here and playing some good footy."

Sharks recruit Matt Moylan

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan gave no indication where his prize signing would play, with the club also linked to unhappy Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Pearce's future is under a cloud following the Tricolous' signing of Test playmaker Cooper Cronk.

"To have Matt on board is going to add a few things to our team, especially offensively," Flanagan said.

"He can play in the halves, he can play fullback. He's got great versatility, he'll fit into our team and give us some depth in those positions and he's not too fussed where he plays."

Moylan's switch continues a trend of Panthers making the move to the Shire, following in the steps of Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Michael Gordon and James Segeyaro.

He is also childhood friends with Sharks prop Andrew Fifita.

"That will make it a little easier knowing they're already out here and having met the guys before. I met a few of the boys this morning and they're a good group of blokes," Moylan said.

Panthers boss Phil Gould wished Moylan well after scoring 26 tries in 86 games since making his debut at the club in 2013.

Moylan's release comes a year after Penrith trumpeted his five-year contract extension and almost two years after appointing him captain.

"I'm sure I speak for everyone here at Panthers in wishing Matt all the best for this next phase of his life. We will follow his football career with great interest," Gould said.

The deal was first revealed by Fairfax Media in October.

Moylan's deal is expected to be for four years and Maloney's for three. It is understood the Panthers were last week liaising with the NRL in relation to a third-party deal in the belief it would remain at the foot of the mountains if Moylan didn't fulfil his contractual obligations.

The swap deal ends speculation over the futures of Moylan and Maloney, who wanted out of their respective clubs for different reasons.

Moylan struggled with the captaincy and had fallen out with coach Anthony Griffin, while Maloney felt the final year of his Sharks deal didn't reflect his status as a two-time premiership-winning representative player.

Both will receive large pay rises as a consequence, with Moylan's deal estimated to be $900,000 a year and Maloney's worth $800,000.

Thanks for the memories: Cronulla's James Maloney is expected to join Penrith this week in a swap deal with Matt Moylan. Picture: John Veage

Thanks for the memories: Cronulla's James Maloney is expected to join Penrith this week in a swap deal with Matt Moylan. Picture: John Veage

The deal could have wide-ranging repercussions for other clubs.

The Sea Eagles were chasing Moylan's services and hoped his relationship with Trent Barrett might help tempt him to Brookvale.

But after missing out on Moylan's signature, they will ramp-up their pursuit of Pearce if he is granted a release from the Roosters.

Pearce is considering his options during an overseas holiday, upset that he will have to hand over his No.7 jersey to Storm signing Cooper Cronk.

While the Roosters have indicated they intend to squeeze Pearce, Luke Keary, Jake Friend and Cronk into their side, they will have to consider a release if the NSW halfback wants a fresh start.

- Fairfax Media with AAP

The story, It’s official: Moylan to join Sharks, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.