This Sunday July 18 against a desperate New Zealand Warriors looms as a danger game for Forbes Magpies junior Charlie Staines and his Penrith Panthers who have been forced to move to the Sunshine Coast bubble after NSW deals with another COVID outbreak.
Coming off a thrilling 13-12 win against a bold Parramatta Eels last round, Penrith will be forced to do it without a number of Origin stars including halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai. Yet Penrith seem to relish these challenges.
In a 12-10 win over the Storm nearly three months ago and again two weeks ago against the Eels, Penrith got the job done without Cleary and against the Eels without Luai and Edwards as well. It is the kind of luxury of depth most teams can only dream about but it means nothing come Sunday for Charlie and company if they can’t hold out a Warriors team running out of time to make a September run.
The following week sees Penrith take on Brisbane before a mouthwatering rematch with Melbourne on July 31 in Melbourne in a game where Cleary, Luai and co are expected to return.