The drama engulfing the Penrith Panthers has escalated with star centre Michael Jennings dramatically dropped to the NSW Cup by coach Ivan Cleary.
It was initially thought that Jennings would miss a number of weeks – and State of Origin I – due to a shoulder injury, but it’s understood he is now fit.
However, he hasn’t been named in the first grade side to play the Dragons on Monday night and will instead play for Windsor in the NSW Cup on Saturday.
It’s the second consecutive season Jennings has been dropped to reserve grade, after playing for Windsor for one match last year when dumped for disciplinary reasons.
There is no suggestion at this stage that Jennings being dropped is due to another off-field incident.
The dropping of Jennings is indicative of a club facing major on-field problems, with the centre without doubt the highest paid player at the club.
Some estimations have Jennings earning some $700,000 a season.
Ivan Cleary has named Brad Tighe into the centres to partner Geoff Daniela.
Meanwhile, there’s further bad news for Penrith with reports that halfback Travis Burns was injured at training today.
He’s been named in the number seven jumper, but is unlikely to play on Monday.