CRONULLA captain Paul Gallen has taken a swipe at Penrith for not giving Matt Moylan enough support as a young captain.
The 26-year-old is on leave and set to miss the Panthers' finals campaign due to personal reasons.
The Panthers face Manly in an elimination final on Saturday.
Penrith general manager Phil Gould confirmed on Monday that Moylan had struggled with the pressure of being the club leader over the past two seasons.
"You need help around you ... I didn't see too much of that at Penrith with Matt Moylan,” Gallen told Sky Sports Radio.
"The whole responsibility was shouldered on him and I didn't feel he looked comfortable with it.
"(He) certainly faced some tough times this year and, as I said, just as an outsider looking in, I didn't see a lot of help going his way.
"I could tell at press conferences, media days - and this is just me talking - he didn't look real comfortable in front of the cameras on his own.
"To be thrust in as a captain at such a young age, and so much expectation on yourself, it's a hard job. People don't understand what a hard job it is.”
Panthers great Mark Geyer said he believed Moylan should not be captain in 2018 - if he does remain at the club.
"I don't think the captaincy sits well with Matty,” Geyer told Triple M Sydney.
"I think he needs to be a bit of a free soul on the footy field.
"At the moment, him having that extra burden as captain has stifled his play.”
Geyer, who played 135 games for the Panthers, said he backed Moylan's decision to take leave if he couldn't be "committed in mind, body and soul”.
"As a Panthers fan, I'm disappointed our best player won't be running out this Saturday night but ... I just hope he gets himself right,” Geyer said.