Today Rob Crosby looks at the South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of season 2017. Can they ascend the #NRL ...
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Former NSW winger Luke Lewis has promised to "play his heart out" in his final season with Penrith after signing a four-year deal to join South Sydney from next year.
Lewis, a Penrith junior, said he had agreed to terms with Souths in a move that would bring his eight-year stint with the Panthers to an end.
The 24-year-old utility, who is believed to have received a lucrative offer from the Rabbitohs, said would have liked to have stayed with the Panthers but wanted to secure his future.
"I always wanted to stay at Penrith ... (but) it's sort of a decision I've had to make now to secure my future and do the best thing for my football," said Lewis, who has played three matches for NSW and went on the 2003 Kangaroo Tour.
"I'm actually looking forward to going out now and playing my heart out for Penrith, they've been so good to me and I've just got to do what I've got to do."
Lewis was one of several off-contract stars who are tipped to leave Penrith at the end of the season.
Hooker Luke Priddis' contract will not be renewed while former Test winger Luke Rooney and New Zealand international Tony Puletua are also tipped to leave the club.
In a worrying sign for the club, Kiwi backrower Frank Pritchard is also reportedly seeking a release from his contract.
The club has endured a controversial start to the year, with speculation of problems between coach Matthew Elliott and his players.
But Lewis said the drama was mostly news to the playing group.
"Most of the stuff we hear is what we read in the papers," Lewis said.
"Matty is a great coach and he's got a lot of great tactics of rugby league and we're still getting used to playing that sort of football.
"But when we stick to what we get told to do, we'll come of the field nine times out of ten with a win.
"... The boys are really excited about the win (over South Sydney last Sunday), this week's been full of energy, it's been really good."
Lewis has been named on the bench to return from injury in Monday night's clash with the Wests Tigers and said he was desperate to play after breaking a finger in the pre-season.
"In 2003, when we won the comp, we lost out first three games out of four and then we went on to lose not many more games after that," Lewis said of the Panthers' 2008 premiership hopes.
Souths director of football operations Shane Richardson said Lewis' best years were still ahead of him.
"Luke has so much he wants to achieve in the game, and at 24 years of age it is exciting that he sees South Sydney as a club where he can achieve those ambitions," Richardson said in a Rabbitohs statement.
"He is a very fine player and he will add depth and versatility to our side."