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Panthers sweat on stars' fitness for Storm matchup

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18th September, 2021
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Penrith are sweating on the fitness of Viliame Kikau and Brian To’o ahead of next week’s NRL preliminary final against a fit and fresh Melbourne.

The Panthers set up the mouthwatering grand final qualifier with a hard-fought 8-6 win over Parramatta in Mackay on Saturday.

The brutal nature of the contest left its mark on the Panthers with Viliame Kikau and Mitch Kenny coming out of the game carrying knocks.

“He just got a really big gash on his leg and rolled his ankle,” Cleary said of Kikau, who spent time off the field in the second half.

“Hopefully, it’s just a lateral sprain and not syndesmosis. Which I don’t think it is.

“Mitch Kenny looks like he has done something pretty serious too…we’ll be trying to find some fresh bodies for next week.”

With Brian To’o (ankle) a late omission from Saturday’s game, the Panthers will be spending the next week hoping to field as strong a team as possible against a Storm team that has spent the past fortnight kicking up their heels.

Cleary also conceded halfback Nathan Cleary is continuing to manage his shoulder injury but denied it was affecting the No.7’s on-field play.

“I think he is okay. Everyone is a bit bruised and battered after that but it’s certainly better when you win,” Cleary said.

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“I don’t think he is playing with discomfort. There is a bit of management there, but he is okay.”

Despite the monumental task ahead of his team, Cleary was keeping a positive mindset ahead of next week’s grand final rematch at Suncorp Stadium.

“We’re in a prelim, we’re fine,” he said.

“I’ll tell you one thing, we are battle-hardened.

“We’ve got young legs, we’ll be right for next week.”

© AAP

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