In an unprecedented move, the NRL has been forced to suspend the season.
Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards will undergo ankle surgery on Thursday, ruling him out at least the first five rounds of the NRL season.
Caleb Aekins is set to start the NRL season as Penrith’s fullback after Edwards was ruled out for up to two months with a serious ankle injury.
Edwards will go under the knife on Thursday after suffering a syndesmosis tear at training on Tuesday, when his right leg was caught in an awkward position.
The setback comes as a significant blow to Edwards, who was dropped early in the 2019 season before reclaiming his spot for the second half of the year.
He would be expected to miss at least the first five weeks, and be battling to regain his fitness for round six and beyond.
The Panthers’ options at the back are limited.
Aekins has played just four NRL games, after making an impressive debut against Cronulla in 2018.
He busted eight tackles in his three games last year, and is the only likely option to fill the role.
Fellow fullback Daine Laurie will also play in a trial match against the Wests Tigers on Saturday, but is still on a development contract.