The Penrith Panthers have wasted little time signing Nathan Cleary’s new understudy now that Tyrone May has been axed.
The Penrith Panthers have wasted little time securing a replacement for disgraced back-up half Tyrone May, whose contract was torn up earlier this week.
Just three days after axing May for a “serious breach of his contractual conditions”, the Panthers confirmed local junior Sean O’Sullivan would join the club from the New Zealand Warriors in 2022.
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Since making his NRL debut in 2018, O’Sullivan has played 21 first-grade games across stints with the Roosters, Broncos and Warriors.
Prior that, he captained Penrith’s SG Ball side, which featured the likes of Brian To’o and Mitch Kenny, to the premiership and national title in 2016.
“I’m a Penrith junior who grew up in Glenmore Park dreaming of playing for the Panthers, so I’m very excited to come home,” said O’Sullivan, who has signed a one-year deal.
“The opportunity to learn from the great coaches and quality halves at the club was one I simply couldn’t pass up.
“I’m going to rip into pre-season and do everything I can to help Panthers achieve success again in 2022.”
O’Sullivan is highly unlikely to feature in the Panthers’ first-choice 13 but should play at least a handful of games in the State of Origin period, during which the Panthers were severely depleted this year.
May filled Nathan Cleary’s spot at halfback during the 2021 Origin period and on two subsequent occasions, when Cleary was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
“As a local junior who helped bring a national title to Penrith, we’re delighted to have Sean return to the club,” Panthers general manager of rugby league Matt Cameron said.
“His acquisition provides our NRL squad with vital halves depth ahead of the 2022 season.
“We’re confident Sean’s experiences as an NRL playmaker to this point have him well-equipped to fulfil an important role for the club next season.”
May, meanwhile, has yet to secure a contract for 2022.
The 25-year-old narrowly avoided jail time after pleading guilty to four count of intentionally recording an intimate image without consent in 2018.
Having already missed the 2019 season in accordance with the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy, May was given a three-year good behaviour bond and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service in January last year.
After the Panthers’ 2021 Grand Final win, May made a social post that was interpreted as a reference to his highly publicised court case.
He was fined $7,500 by the NRL and stood down by the Panthers, who sacked him this week. May had been out of contract at the end of the 2021 season.