A cloud hangs over Penrith’s premiership chances as the club waits on a verdict on the shoulder injury suffered by Nathan Cleary in State of Origin.
Cleary hasn’t been named in the Penrith team to take on Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium on Friday night, with Matt Burton named at five-eighth and Jarome Luai shifting to halfback.
The 24-year-old had scans on his injured shoulder yesterday and will meet with a surgeon to determine what action needs to be taken. It’s possible he’ll need surgery immediately, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Cleary’s injury is likely to spark more debate about mid-season Origin and its impact on clubs.
The TAB has also taken swift action, dethroning the Panthers as Premiership favourites.
Melbourne are TAB’s new NRL Premiership favourites after Penrith drifted from $2.75 to $3.25 with Cleary’s season in doubt. The Storm go from $3.25 into $2.80.
To make matters worse for Penrith, fullback Dylan Edwards out of Friday’s game against the Eels with a foot injury, while Robert Jennings and Paul Momirovski are also injured.
Charlie Staines will shift to fullback, while Brent Naden will make his first appearance of the season on the wing. Tyrone May will play in the centres.
In some more positive news, Viliame Kikau will return from injury to take his place in the second row.
Panthers team v Eels: Charlie Staines, Brent Naden, Stephen Crichton, Tyrone May, Brian To’o, Matt Burton, Jarome Luai, Moses Leota, Api Koroisau, James Fisher-Harris, Viliame Kikau, Kurt Capewell, Isaah Yeo (c). Bench: Mitch Kenny, Scott Sorensen, Spencer Leniu, Liam Martin, Izack Tago, Jaeman Salmon, Matt Eisenhuth, Taylan May.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.