Mansour's frustrating injury spell ends
Panthers winger Josh Mansour has described his relief after been named to return from a knee injury against the Wests Tigers this weekend, having been restricted to just five NRL games since last year's Four Nations tournament.
Mansour, who had off-season surgery following Australia's failed season-ending campaign, missed the first two games of 2015 before making his return in Round 3 against the Roosters.
Playing a further month of football since then, Mansour suffered a severe tear in his medial cruciate ligament in Round 7 and has spent the past 11 weeks in rehab.
With the Panthers winning just two of their eight games without the four-time Australian winger, his inclusion is a timely one as the club look to remain in touch with the top eight.
"The knee is feeling great. I'm very confident in it - I wouldn't be playing if it wasn't so I'm bloody excited to be back out there and hopefully we get the win," Mansour said.
"You always want to come back from an injury earlier than expected but with this injury the full recovery was definitely needed.
"I hate watching footy – especially watching the boys play when I'm not out there. It's very frustrating. We haven't been performing at all so we have a big game against the Tigers. The competition is so close so this game is crucial.
While he has missed crucial games for the mountain men in 2015, Mansour was also never given a chance to vie for a maiden State of Origin jersey for New South Wales either – something he tried not getting too disappointed about while in rehab.
"I would've loved to put on the Blue jersey but in saying that I haven't dropped my head," Mansour said.
"Hopefully I can get my form back that helped me win an Australian jersey last year and get back to playing footy again."
Meanwhile Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward was happy to move past being the recipient of Josh Jackson's highly-scrutinised dangerous throw in Penrith's last-start 24-12 loss to the Bulldogs.
Not wanting to see Jackson miss out on the State of Origin series decider, Soward was just thankful he wasn't seriously injured.
"He said sorry after the game and as far as I'm concerned it was one of those tackles that went wrong and thankfully for both of us – for him Origin, for me I didn't get hurt – we'll move on from that," Soward said.
"As a New South Welshman I didn't want to see him miss an Origin but it was a dangerous tackle at the end of the day. I don't know what I'm supposed to do when I get picked up and put on my head. But that's just the way it happened.
"You don't like to see it. It was just one of those tackles which got out of hand."