Ivan Cleary says highly sought-after assistant Cameron Ciraldo is in no rush to leave Penrith amid Canterbury's search for a replacement coach.
Ciraldo is widely considered the next NRL coach in waiting, rated alongside Sydney Roosters counterpart Jason Ryles as the NRL's best young talents.
The Panthers defensive coach was approached by Cronulla last season to join Craig Fitzgibbon's staff and there was also some speculation he was target for Wests Tigers late last year.
While the Bulldogs have suggested they are in the hunt for a more experienced mentor, the Warriors, Newcastle, Tigers and St George Illawarra all have varying questions over their top job next season.
But while Cleary is well aware he will one day lose his close ally, he said the issue had not been raised by Ciraldo in the days after Trent Barrett's Belmore exit.
"Cam's a head coach in waiting, everybody knows it. But I don't think he's in any hurry," Cleary said.
"We're just going on with business as usual.
"He's super valuable, love having him here. He's a great coach.
"He'd be a big loss. Any talented and valuable member of a club would be. But some day it's going to happen."
Cleary has been in contact with Barrett since his Canterbury demise, having exchanged messages with his former assistant this week.
He is also open to him returning to the Panthers for a third stint at the club if a spot becomes available, a situation that would most likely come about if Ciraldo moved elsewhere for a top job.
But it is Cleary himself who will be the big addition to Penrith's coaching box at the SCG on Saturday night against the Roosters, after letting Ciraldo and fellow assistant Andrew Webster take charge for the past two weeks.
Cleary watched their round-nine loss to Parramatta from a hospital bed with an infected knee, and then stayed back in Sydney for their Magic Round win over Melbourne last week.
He was still on crutches on Friday, but will be happy to return to the SCG after spending last week on loudspeaker on the phone while watching a slightly delayed TV broadcast.
"It's been a tough couple of weeks," Cleary said.
"I have been trying to come in and add where I can.
"Obviously missing the game is tough, totally different experience, sitting at home watching it on TV. You feel like a fan."