Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary will miss the rest of the regular season but will be back for the Finals after being slapped with a Grade 3 Dangerous Throw charge.
Cleary was sent off in the 18th minute of last night’s loss to Parramatta after a horror tackle on Dylan Brown.
Because Cleary has a similar, albeit much less severe, charge hanging over his head from an earlier game, the suspension is harsher than it usually would have been.
He faces five weeks out with an early guilty plea and six weeks if he fights the charge and loses.
It would be doubtful Penrith would risk fighting the charge in search of a downgrade given a six week ban would see him miss week one of the Finals.
The Cleary incident, paired with Jarome Luai’s knee injury, has thrown the back end of Penrith’s regular season into chaos. The Minor Premiership race is suddenly not over, especially given the Panthers have a tough draw in coming weeks.
Kurt Falls and Sean O’Sullivan will likely partner in the halves for next Saturday’s game in Canberra.
Last night Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said he “understood” the send-off, and accepted the team faces a significant challenge over the next month.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.