Masked Panther: Edwards gone but Mansour will return

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There’s more bad news on the injury front for the Panthers with fullback Dylan Edwards requiring surgery on the shoulder he injured against the Bulldogs last weekend. It means the talented youngster will miss the rest of the NRL season.

It’s better news for Josh Mansour who after having facial surgery last week has been told he could return this season. He’s facing at least 10-12 weeks on the sideline recovering.

The Panthers may have lost one of their most consistent lower graders with prop Oliver Clark (pictured) on the verge of joining Wests Tigers next season. The 21-year-old has had great success in the Holden Cup and ISP sides but is yet to crack into the first grade team at Penrith.

Penrith boss Phil Gould feels he’s all but finalised the 2019 top grade squad with very little movement expected in the next off-season. Gould wants to work on 2020 but is being held up by the Nathan Cleary contract situation. While Cleary is being given all the time he needs to decide on his future, the club knows his decision will impact greatly on its 2020 retentions and potential signings from elsewhere. Gould remains very confident Cleary will stay at the foot of the Mountains despite the obvious connection with his father Ivan at the Wests Tigers and potential interest from the Sydney Roosters.

I was told early last week that Penrith forward Tim Browne would most likely retire after that horrific injury he suffered earlier this year. I put it to the club, but they strongly denied it and said he was returning to light training (hence my piece last week on his comeback). Turns out Browne is retiring after all, confirming this week he’s giving the game away at the age of 30.

Spotted: Panthers forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard filling up with some pizza and pasta at ‘Product of Italy’ last week.

Spotted: Injured Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary doing his bit for charity at the annual Fitness 4 Autism fundraiser at Jamison Park last Sunday.

Former cheerleader Nat Sinclair, who has been sharing the ground announcing duties with Scott McRae at Panthers Stadium this year, was missing from last Friday night’s game against the Bulldogs but will be back on deck in round 11 for the Tigers game. While the club should be credited for trying something new, things were a lot smoother with McRae riding solo again last Friday night.

Panthers legends Royce Simmons and Greg Alexander have been named in the final 25 contenders for NRL Hall of Fame inclusion later this year. Six new Hall of Fame recipients will be announced in July, before being formally inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. Also making the top 25 was Petero Civoniceva and Ron Lynch, both of whom played with the Panthers towards the end of their careers.

Skipper Peter Wallace is a certain starter for Friday’s game against the Cowboys in Bathurst despite his late withdrawal from last week’s encounter with the Bulldogs at Panthers Stadium. Wallace has been troubled by a minor neck complaint but has trained all week and is good to go at Carrington Park.

David Klemmer certainly earned the wrath of the Penrith crowd last weekend, and his family and friends weren’t happy about it. I’m told members of the Klemmer clan were far from well behaved during the game and Penrith fans were disgusted with some of the behaviour they witnessed.

Some sad news out of England with former Panthers halfback Luke Walsh forced to retire after suffering a serious ankle injury. Walsh suffered the injury in February while playing for the Catalans Dragons and last week succumbed to the news that he would not be able to return. Walsh played more than 100 first grade games for the Panthers between 2009 and 2013.

Former Penrith trainer Ron Palmer has revealed he’s writing a book. Rugby league’s everywhere man would certainly have plenty of juicy stories from his time in the game, including his stint with the Panthers.

Do you have any Panthers news or gossip you’d like to share? Confidentiality is assured! Email maskedpanther@westernweekender.com.au.

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