Manly prop Brent Kite, the 2008 Clive Churchill Medal winner, has spoken for the first time about being squeezed out of Brookvale, claiming he "earned the right" to finish his career with the Sea Eagles.
The new Panthers recruit also spoke about claims that Manly's roster is too old and whether players care about the club's boardroom dramas.
Q: Did you want to leave the Sea Eagles?
A: No. That answer short enough? I would have loved to stay but got squeezed out in the end. I am happy that I got to stay this long and that Manly were able to keep a real good squad together for so long. There are still 10 blokes here from 2008. I have seen some great mates go before me, so I feel I got a good run.
Q: Do you like the salary cap, even though it essentially ended your time at Brookvale?
A: Yes, the salary cap is good. I have said it keeps the competition fair but let's just get some more money in it. That is starting to happen and that's a good thing. I just hope now that has happened that clubs share the money around.
People talking about $1 million for this guy and $1 million for that guy. That is a strategic thing for each club.
I am proud what we have done and shared the money around a bit. Other clubs will concentrate their cash on some key figures, and that can work too, like Melbourne.
That's not for me to say, what's right or what's wrong.
Q: How did you feel being pushed out? Angry or accepting?
A: Last year it was well documented the club needed to move guys and my name was front and centre. I knew I still had some good footy in me. It was a bit sad.
I thought I had the runs on the board and will have played well over 200 games by the time I leave. I thought I might have earned the right to finish my career here. In saying that, two or three guys will move on. It is a by-product of success.
Q: Penrith are struggling big-time. Were you pushed into going there?
A: We started talking to Penrith fairly early on, probably after round one or two. We had a good offer from them and it was good that Gus (Phil Gould) and Ivan (Cleary) showed some faith in me. They said they wanted me out there and believed I could help the club. It wasn't like we spoke to heaps of clubs.
It gave me security and made me able to put some plans down with a young family and wife. That was a real incentive. I don't mind Penrith. It would have been funny to go to some other clubs, though.
Q: Manly were written off pre-season for being too old. I was one who agreed publicly with that theory.
A: Were you really? What was the excuse last year? It seems to happen every year. My old man used to say, 'Old is 15 years older than you,' so you never really feel old.
We have so much experience and some young guys who just happened to be experienced. Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans have won grand finals and done some good things in the game. We have also recruited really well.
Q: The board drama at Manly seems to bubble along. Does that worry you?
A: I can't keep up with it. It doesn't rate a mention among the players. You hear bits and pieces. It would be good if they could all get on but I understand it's a bit more complicated than that.
Brent Kite has described the ASADA doping scandal as a "pain in the butt".
He also claimed controversial sports scientist Steve Dank, who worked at Manly, was a "decent guy" and "the smartest guy in the room".
Kite discussed the Des Hasler era at Brookvale and life under Geoff Toovey.
Q: What is your overview of the ASADA drama?
A: A pain in the butt.
Q: In what regards?
A: It hasn't done the game's image any favours, all without having (players) pressed with any charges. I'm not saying anything anyone hasn't said.
I can't help feeling it is a bit of a fishing expedition, otherwise we would have seen some action happen before now.
In saying that, I don't know their strategic plan, who they are trying to get and how many they are trying to get. I just feel, to a degree, they are looking for blokes to roll over on each other, which isn't nice, I suppose.
Q: What do you think when I say the name Steve Dank?
A: I giggle. Dank was a good character to have around the club. We always thought he was the smartest man in the room.
Q: Was he?
A: I don't know. He fielded all questions well but we probably didn't have the pedigree to challenge him. He was a decent guy and a funny man. I am not sure what is going to come out in the wash.
Q: How will you remember the Hasler years at Brookvale?
A: Good times. A character.
A: Definitely. Part of this (the club's success) is Dessie's legacy. I will always credit Dessie with the turnaround that happened here at Manly and I was happy to be part of it.
It was sad the way it went down in the end. There are a lot of good memories.
Q: What about the Toovey era?
A: Different. When you have been under the same coach for so long, it has definitely been different ... but refreshing.
It was a change that has really worked for us. "Tooves" is in his second year and is going better than ever. I thought even last year he had a par year.
Q: Will Manly be there on grand final day?
A: I would love to be there in my final game for Manly and being in a winning grand final would be awesome.
We have the guys to do it and we have been in a couple of grand finals now. The feel around the joint is good.