James MacSmith July 13, 2012
Stand-in Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston says he has no designs on the long-term captaincy of the NRL side, as the Panthers begin their search for a leader to help re-build the embattled club.
Kingston has been a reluctant player in the saga that has engulfed the Panthers after he was preferred as captain to NSW back-rower Luke Lewis by coach Ivan Cleary over the State of Origin period. It was a decision that preceded Lewis's request for a release from the final two years of his contract.
Kingston has been installed as Panthers captain for the rest of the season ahead of their crucial round-19 match against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday night. And while Kingston said he was disappointed to see Lewis go, he has no plans on succeeding him as captain full time.
"I'm sad to see him go," Kingston said.
"He has done a great job for the club - every kid around the place wants to be the next Luke Lewis.
"It has been tough at the start of the week, but he (Lewis) has moved on. He has been very professional about it. It has been good to see how he has reacted to it all."
When asked about his captaincy ambitions, Kingston replied: "No, I don't want to be.
"I'm still pretty much filling in, just patching a hole."
Cleary said the decision to appoint Kingston as captain for the rest of the year was made during the week following Lewis being granted the release.
"Under the circumstances, it was the right thing to do for the club," he said.
Penrith are reportedly chasing a big name to fill the significant void that Lewis will leave at the club. They might also need to chase a club leader given the lack of an obvious candidate.
Halfback Luke Walsh could be a contender, as could his halves partner Travis Burns. Fullback Lachlan Coote is another potential captain and Tim Grant continues to impress following his rapid rise to NSW Origin prop. But captaincy might be too much on the young shoulders of Coote, 22 and Grant, 24.