New Zealand coach Michael Maguire has backed Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to bounce back to form despite being unhappy at Penrith.
Watene-Zelezniak is on the open market after Penrith on Wednesday granted the out-of-favour fullback permission to speak to rival clubs.
Maguire admitted the development took him by surprise.
"It's obviously hard to see (with) some players that I'm very close with. He's a great kid, Dallin," Maguire said on Thursday.
"He'll bounce back, don't worry about that. He's a great player."
Maguire has grown close to Watene-Zelezniak since taking over as Kiwis coach last May, beginning with their mid-year Test in Denver.
Maguire then made the surprise decision to hand the captaincy to Watene-Zelezniak for their end-of-season Test matches.
The Penrith junior flourished in the role, leading his native country to an upset victory over Australia on home soil.
Maguire said he has since been in constant dialogue with Watene-Zelezniak to discuss international matters.
"I know I continually talk to him about what's going on in the Kiwi space. No doubt he'll bounce back and that's the type of person he is," he said.
And while Watene-Zelezniak has been heavily linked with Parramatta, Maguire, who is also Wests Tigers coach, didn't rule out an approach.
It is understood the Tigers have space in this year's salary cap, however are running tight on next year's budget.
Asked whether he'd be keen on luring the 23-year-old to Concord, Maguire said: "Oh look, he's a great player and wherever he ends up, he'd do a great job. That's one thing I do know.
"He's got to remember that he's the captain that played in a Test match over there against Australia and it was an incredible performance that he showed.
"So he's just got to make sure he draws that confidence out of that and know that he's a player of that level."
Australian Associated Press