Newly signed Bulldogs player Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will debut for the club in round 13.  Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP
Newly signed Bulldogs player Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will debut for the club in round 13. Picture: Dean Lewins/AAP

Look in your own backyard: departed ex-Panther opens up

CANTERBURY recruit Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has opened up on Penrith's culture after being released by the club mid-season.

The former Panthers captain was dumped from the NRL team before asking for a release and jumping ship to Belmore last week.

He is set to make his Dogs debut in round 14.

Penrith has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2019. A sex tape scandal rocked the club on the eve of the season and player Tyrone May was charged for illegally disseminating explicit videos without consent.

Since then Tyrone Phillips and Tyrell Fuimaono have gone through their own legal issues. The club's culture has been slammed by commentators including legend Laurie Daley.

Watene-Zelezniak denied a culture problem was behind his sudden exit and said he still supported his former Penrith teammates.

"I can't speak for the other boys, but personally it didn't affect me at all," Watene-Zelezniak said on Thursday.

"I'm a big believer in people make decisions and they get the consequences for them. People make mistakes, I've made mistakes, and I've always been brought up not to judge.

"Look in your own backyard before you judge someone else.

"I was there to support the boys and I still am. They've made some decisions that affected not only their lives but their families, and they've learnt from them.

"To keep going on about it is a bit sad for them. They're trying to move on and get on with their lives.

"They have copped the consequences and are moving forward.

"I'll support them. I know the guys that they are ... yeah they made some mistakes but they are paying the consequences."

Aside from their off-field dramas the Panthers have also struggled for form between the white stripes.

One of a number of captains named at the start of the season, Watene-Zelezniak was later stripped of the title.

He was the club's fullback but was shifted between the wing and centres before being axed from the team altogether.

He said he had no issue with Penrith coach Ivan Cleary.

"(My relationship with Cleary) is not broken for me. He gave me my start," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"I'll be forever grateful for that. He's got a family too. Playing football affects our family too.

"My family has found it hard, the change."

The Bulldogs take on the Roosters on Sunday and their newest recruit has been named to play centre.