By STEVE MASCORD
HE’S one of the victims of the seismic changes at Penrith but young back rower Mitch Achurch has backed Phil Gould’s Panthers clean-out to be a success.
Achurch, 23, has quit the Australian game to join Leeds on a long-term contract and will line up against Melbourne in the World Club Challenge on February 22.
He left the foot of the mountains after only being offered a one-year deal by the regime of general manager Gould and coach Ivan Cleary.
“When Gus took over, you could tell that there was a bit of movement upstairs,” he tells Rugby League Week.
“Gus has got a vision and no-one’s going to stand in his way.
“You see Michael Gordon, Luke Lewis, they all moved on and they’re legendary players that any club would want. But he’s got a vision and he’s going to achieve it one way or another.
“It won’t be this year but I do expect big things from Penrith in the next few years and it’s a shame I couldn’t stay and be part of it.”
Achurch says the club’s plan to do “bigger things” –presumably sign stars like Johnathan Thurston – was given as a reason why he was only offered a one-year contract.
“The way my career was panning out in Australia – I won’t say it was going nowhere but it wasn’t your typical career where I played first grade, signed a big contract and everything went really well,” he explains.
“I was on the other end of the scale where I was on the fringe a little bit. Penrith gave me a go and they were looking to do bigger things next year and they couldn’t offer me more than a one-year contract.
“I thought I deserved a bit longer than that.
“To get in contact with the Leeds Rhinos, the team that wins the Super League … people think it’s a lesser comp but any team that wins a comp is alright by me.
“It’s not like I came over here to the team running last. I came to the champions and I haven’t regretted it yet.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK