Interchange forward Mitch Kenny will captain Penrith against North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night.
The unlikely appointment comes as the Panthers prepare to rest most of their first grade side for the Round 25 encounter.
The move is aimed at ensuring the Panthers go into the Finals series fully fit given they’ve already secured the Minor Premiership and this Saturday’s game has no impact on where they will finish.
Kenny will be named to start at hooker in place of Api Koroisau when Ivan Cleary officially names his team at 4pm today.
A number of players are likely to be named to make their NRL debut.
NRL Head of Elite Competitions, Graham Annesley, indicated the NRL had no issue with Penrith resting so many players, despite some saying it was not in the spirit of the game.
“The NRL is not in the business of picking teams, if they’ve come from their squad they’re entitled to pick whoever they want, we don’t get involved in that,” he said.
“They do have a responsibility to field their best players as much as possible but of course if a player is going to benefit from not playing because of niggling injuries that is not something that the NRL will get involved in.”
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.