Masked Panther: May set for return

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Five-eighth Tyrone May is set to be given clearance to return to the field after recovering from the ACL injury he suffered in the Finals last year. Penrith coach Anthony Griffin may face a tough decision, however, with question marks over whether the 21-year-old should be rushed straight back into first grade. May is likely to be available for selection for next Friday’s game against the Cowboys in Bathurst, but Griffin would probably be more comfortable having him return through reserve grade. However, Penrith’s ISP side has a bye next weekend, adding to the headache.

Josh Mansour’s potentially season-ending injury has thrown his plans for next year into disarray. The off-contract 27-year-old was hoping for a strong 2018 to ensure he secured top dollar with his next contract, but now faces at least three months out of the game. He could even be gone for the entire year after having major facial surgery on Monday. It’s the second straight year Mansour has missed an extended period through injury and you’d have to wonder if Parramatta, who reportedly had a big money offer in play, would be getting cold feet. The Panthers are keen to re-sign Mansour but won’t pay overs.

Forward Tim Browne will return to light training next week as his recovery from a ruptured bowel continues. The 30-year-old suffered the injury playing in the ISP back in round 2 and it’s great to see him fighting his way back.

Plenty have been critical of the scheduling of Penrith’s game in Bathurst on a Friday night, but it’s shaping up to be a bumper crowd. The grandstand as well as gold and silver VIP packages have been sold out, with only general admission tickets left for the Panthers / Cowboys blockbuster at Carrington Park.

Penrith’s clash against Cronulla was Foxtel’s top rating program on Sunday with an average of 244,000 viewers tuning in. A further 295,000 watched Channel Nine’s free-to-air broadcast, giving the match a solid total audience across the country.

The Panthers are denying it but I’m hearing there’s more to Kaide Ellis’ omission from first grade last week than meets the eye. Ellis made his debut for the Panthers in round 6, but made way for fellow debutant Jack Hetherington last weekend against the Sharks. Rumour has it a contractual / salary cap issue was actually at play here.

No Panthers found themselves on the charge sheet following last weekend’s game but Cronulla winger Edrick Lee did get reprimanded for a trip on Corey Harawira-Naera. The grade 1 incident in the dying minutes of the game saw Lee cop a $1,350 fine after he submitted an early guilty plea.

I’m hearing there could be yet even more baby news on the way at the Panthers. Watch this space!

Spotted: Panthers skipper Peter Wallace stuck in traffic on Mulgoa Road on Monday morning.

Are you a merchandise / memorabilia fanatic looking to add to your collection? A 1997 Super League jersey worn in a match by Garen Casey is currently up for sale on eBay with a $500 price tag. The seller claims to have obtained the jersey from a “gear steward who shall remain nameless”. For the record, Casey played 23 games for the Panthers across the 1996 and 1997 seasons before finishing his career in England.

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