The Roar
The Roar


Cleary to rest more Panthers against Dogs

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
18th September, 2020

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has hinted at resting more players for next week’s final regular-season clash with Canterbury as preparations begin in earnest for an assault on the NRL title.

The Panthers wrapped up their first minor premiership in 17 years and extended their historic winning streak to 14 with a 32-12 defeat of North Queensland in Townsville on Friday night.

And they did it after icing captain James Tamou and veteran front-rower Zane Tetevano, while star hooker Apisai Koroisau also failed to fly up due to concussion.

All three are expected to return to face the 15th-placed Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium next Saturday.

However, Cleary suggested others could be given a week off ahead of their home qualifying final the following week, likely to be against Parramatta or the Sydney Roosters.

Middle forward Isaah Yeo and five-eighth Jarome Luai are the only players to have appeared in all 19 games for the Panthers so far this season, while prop James Fisher-Harris has missed just one game.

James Fisher-Harris looks to pass

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Asked whether he would sit more players against Canterbury next week, Cleary said: “Yeah, possibly. From now on it’s all about how we prepare the best we can to be ready for Round 1 of the finals. So yeah, we’ll sit down and have a look at this week and see how everyone pulls up out of this game and make some decisions.”

Cleary may be forced into making at least two changes, with strike second-rower Viliame Kikau reported for a high tackle on Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes in the first half.


Kikau, who has served a one-game ban this season for dangerous contact, has 50 carry-over points and could be facing another suspension should he be hit with a Grade 2 charge.

Fullback Dylan Edwards also came off in the second half with what is considered a minor knee issue.

“Yeah, he’s got a bit of a knock to his knee. He could’ve played on, but he was a bit uncomfortable so I just got rid of him,” Cleary said.

Cleary also addressed confirmation of Tamou’s exit from the foot of the mountains at season’s end to join fierce rivals the Wests Tigers on a two-year deal, saying it was due to salary cap pressures.

“Our success has put more pressure on our cap. We’ve re-signed a bunch of our young guys this year and we’re still trying to sign a few of them now,” Cleary said.


“Unfortunately when that’s happening, when guys are coming through from the bottom and they’re playing so well and their value goes up, then someone’s got to push out at the top. Unfortunately for us it’s James.

“But we’re super happy that he’s found a new home and he’s done an incredible job for us this year. It’d be great to see him down there this week receiving the JJ Giltinan Shield.”