Injured Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward should be good to play against Melbourne on Saturday with the help of painkillers, says forward Elijah Taylor.
The injury-ridden Panthers have named Soward despite the 30-year-old struggling from a shoulder injury sustained when he copped a controversial late hit from Parramatta’s Pauli Pauli in last Friday night’s NRL clash.
“Yeah he trained on Tuesday, I’m sure he’ll be good to go,” Taylor told Sky Sports radio on Friday.
“Maybe (he’ll) get a local (anaesthetic) in the AC joint and yeah I’m sure he’ll be ready to play tomorrow night.”
Pauli escaped suspension after submitting an early guilty plea on a grade-one dangerous contact charge over the incident, sparking debate over whether the NRL is too lenient on the targeting of playmakers.
Coach Ivan Cleary will be keen to finally start fielding his first-choice halves duo of Soward and Peter Wallace regularly again.
Wallace’s knee injury coupled with Soward’s early season back surgery have forced Penrith to use a swathe of different playmaking combinations this season, contributing to the Panthers’ inconsistent start of five wins and six losses.
Taylor admitted the absence of injured fullback Matt Moylan following ankle surgery was another massive loss.
But he put faith in replacement Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to fire against what will surely be an explosive Melbourne outfit looking to respond to their embarrassing loss to the Roosters last week.
“He’s a natural fullback,” Taylor said of Watene-Zelezniak.
“He came through the junior systems playing fullback so at least it’s an opportunity to play there.
“Obviously Matt’s a big loss for us, but everybody’s got full confidence and faith in Dallin that he can do the job for us.”
The Storm will benefit from the return of their own star fullback Billy Slater from his shoulder issues, but have lost speedy winger Marika Koroibete for six weeks with a thumb injury.