Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward denies the club is cursed despite their ongoing injury troubles extended by yet another long-term casualty in star hooker James Segeyaro.
The NRL season has yet to reach round two and the luckless Panthers already have a bulging casualty ward, which now houses Segeyaro (broken arm), captain Matt Moylan (back) and centre Dean Whare (calf).
Moylan had targeted a round two return after missing the club’s season-opening loss to Canberra with a bad back, but five-eighth Jamie Soward wasn’t confident he’d be fit in time.
Asked whether Moylan or Whare would be right to take on the Bulldogs, Soward said: “Most likely not, but we’ll just wait and see.”
Soward admitted the team was disappointed to lose the lively Segeyaro for up to two months, but refused to buy into speculation that the club was cursed.
Should their regular No.9 need the full eight weeks to recover, it means the Panthers could go an entire 12 months with their first-choice spine on the park.
Not since Moylan severely injured his ankle early against Parramatta last May has he, Soward, Peter Wallace and Segeyaro all appeared together in an NRL match.
Furthermore, the last time the same quartet had actually finished with able bodies on the fulltime siren was when they racked up a 40-0 shutout of the Gold Coast all the way back in round two last year.
But a determined Soward was adamant the club hadn’t incurred the wrath of the rugby league gods.
“We’re not cursed. `Chicko’ (Segeyaro) plays the game pretty hard and he was just unlucky on the weekend,” he said.
“The coach’ll pick a replacement and we’ll just move on, get the game plan, and fix up the things we didn’t do well on the weekend.
“I don’t think we’re the only club that picked up injuries on the weekend. It’s just the way the game’s played these days.”
Former Junior Kiwi Zach Dockar-Clay is likely to get the call-up from coach Anthony Griffin, although the recently dropped Elijah Taylor could earn a recall.
Shifting Wallace and promoting young gun Te Maire Martin is another option.