Viliame Kikau is bound for Canterbury after images surfaced of him appearing in Bulldogs colours alongside Phil Gould and Trent Barrett.
In a massive coup for the Canterbury club, Kikau is expected to sign a four-year deal with the Bulldogs and leave Penrith at the end of 2022.
His arrival will be the latest in a long line of marquee grabs by Barrett, who mentored Kikau at the Panthers.
It means he will reunite with Tevita Pangai in the forwards, while the Bulldogs have also snatched Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr, Paul Vaughan, Matt Dufty and Brent Naden in recent months.
It comes after St George Illawarra and North Queensland were both in the race to sign the 26-year-old for 2023.
Penrith were keen to keep the powerful second-rower's services but were not willing to blow their salary cap long-term in order to do so.
The nature of Kikau's signing is also expected to raise eyebrows.
Images of Kikau in the Bulldogs club polo shirt alongside coach Barrett and head of football Gould have appeared as rumours linking him to the club surfaced.
AAP has contacted several sources at the Bulldogs to confirm if the image had been doctored, but there were no denials.
In the photo, Kikau is standing between Barrett and Gould and posing for someone who is believed to be a club photographer.
The image appears to be taken from a security camera, with the Bulldogs now believed to be investigating how it was leaked.
Kikau is contracted to the Panthers for 2022 and is still expected to play out the season with the defending premiers.Internet Explorer Channel Network