Mates stand by Lewis

SHOULD a Panther promote Shark-infested territory while still residing in the den?

A moral debate has circled the Cronulla Sharks' decision to flaunt Luke Lewis and his recent four-year-signing at a press conference at Toyota Stadium, also known as Shark Park, on Friday.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary expressed his disapproval at the decision but conceded that the choices the Sharks made were out of his club's control.

"I guess it was Cronulla's idea," Cleary said.

"Personally, I wouldn't have done it.

"If it was our club, I wouldn't like our club to do it."

At the end of every statement the Panthers have released this year regarding signings for 2013, they've stated that out of respect for the incoming player and his soon-to-be former club, they would not make any further comment until the end of the season.

Responding to the press conference, Panthers board of directors member and club legend Greg Alexander was quoted as questioning whether Luke Lewis should continue playing for Penrith for the remainder of 2012 or simply align himself with the Sharks and their 2013 season immediately.

Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston said he was unfazed by Lewis's disputed appearance and said he didn't want his former captain leaving before the season was over.

"As a player and a mate, I want him here for the rest of the year," Kingston said.

"I want him to play well for the Panthers and hopefully get some wins.

"I think that other stuff is not really an issue for us at the moment."

Inspirational prop Tim Grant, who has emerged as a potential replacement for Lewis as the side's first-choice captain next year, echoed Kingston's sentiment.

"I want to play along Lewie until the last game," Grant said.

"The NRL is a business now and the Sharks got exposure out of doing that so good luck to them.

"I'm not really going to say if it's right or wrong — obviously Lewie felt comfortable with it and the Sharks did as well so that's it."

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