Penrith captain Matt Moylan will miss his fourth straight game to start the season after being ruled out of his side’s NRL clash with St George Illawarra on Sunday.
The Panthers fullback was considered a chance of returning from his back injury against the Dragons, and while he has returned to full training, coach Anthony Griffin has opted not to risk further injury.
The goal, again, is next week.
“If it was a back-end of the season game and we were really desperate, he’d play,” Griffin said.
“But we’re going to be patient with him and just make sure when he does play, he’ll be right. Hopefully that’s next Sunday for him.”
Moylan’s absence means he has now missed the opening month of the season, three more than the initial prognosis for the back injury he suffered during a trial match in February.
But Griffin denied the 24-year-old had suffered any setbacks, saying he had been close to playing in their past three games.
“I’m just making sure we’re really cautious with him and making sure he’s absolutely right. It’s just a matter of making sure that he’s 100 per cent right before we play him,” he said.
Forward Trent Merrin is a certain starter after overcoming an illness that kept him out of last week’s win over Brisbane.
The former Dragon was on a drip in hospital this time last week but Griffin said the NSW State of Origin representative had trained well through the week and wouldn’t be on a minutes restriction.
“There’s no reason why he wouldn’t. He obviously got struck by a bad viral infection last Saturday morning but by the middle of this week he had his weight back on and all his blood tests were alright,” he said.
“Some of his symptoms must’ve looked like it but it’s obviously not glandular fever. He’s in a really good frame of mind. He’s fit and healthy looking forward to play.”