Penrith are bracing for a Nathan Peats-led ambush when they host Gold Coast in Sunday’s round 11 clash at the foot of the mountains.
Peats will make his club debut off the bench for the Titans just nine days after being sensationally squeezed out of Parramatta because of their recent salary cap scandal.
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin, whose men will be aiming to notch three consecutive wins for the first time this year, said he was wary of a motivated Peats.
“He’s obviously going to play well, first game for his new club,” Griffin said.
“There’s no real pressure on him and he’s coming in to add something to their team. I’d expect him to play a lot of minutes and he’d be at his best, no doubt.”
The match is Penrith’s third straight home game but first back at Pepper Stadium after taking their previous two matches to Bathurst and then Christchurch.
While both teams will be aiming to back up last-start wins, much of the focus will be on the Panthers’ troupe of State of Origin hopefuls, led by skipper Matt Moylan.
In what will be their final chance to impress Blues coach Laurie Daley before he names his team for game one on Monday, Bryce Cartwright, Josh Mansour and Tyrone Peachey have also been linked with Blues debuts.
Griffin urged the quartet to heed the lessons out of Friday’s epic encounter between premiership heavyweights North Queensland and Brisbane, both of whom are laden with Origin stars.
“You only had to have a look at (Friday’s) game and all the answers are there,” he said.
“If they need an example to follow, if they watched Brisbane and Cowboys last night, it was one of the best games of the year. The focus is on the task at hand for your club at the moment.”
After making late switches to the centres for the past two weeks, Peachey, who nabbed his first career hat trick last week, has been named to start on the flanks in what is the only noted selection on Tuesday.
For the Titans, Nene Macdonald (calf) replaces the injured David Mead (knee).
STATS THAT MATTER
* Eleven of the 13 matches between these two teams have been decided by 13 points or more, with four of the past five decided by 20 points or more
* Penrith lead the league in offloads with 14 per game, but concede the most with 12
* Gold Coast have won just one of their past 10 away matches stretching back to round 16 last year.