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Matt Moylan and the Panthers lost narrowly to the Roosters in Round 3 at Pepper Stadium.

Penrith Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has backed his decision to drop skipper Matt Moylan, along with Waqa Blake and Peta Hiku for their clash with South Sydney on Friday night. 

The trio were demoted to Penrith's Intrust Super Premiership side that face the Knights on Saturday after breaking team protocol following their 28-6 loss to Melbourne last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the side's final training session on Thursday, Griffin explained the reasoning behind the move before indicating the players had reacted well when told of their demotion earlier in the week. 

"I made a decision on what's best for the club and it's not something I made lightly," Griffin said.

"At this stage of the year I thought it was the right thing for the club and for the players as well. They're good people that are valuable members of our club and have handled the decision well.

"It's a footy season that's long and at times clubs will have different issues to deal with.

"It's not a major issue in regards to breaking laws or anything like that but it's something that we take seriously within our club."

Griffin couldn't guarantee the trio would walk back into the starting side for their Round 7 Telstra Premiership clash with the defending premiers Cronulla, with the game against the Rabbitohs providing an opportunity for rookies Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and Dylan Edwards to prove their worth.

"A week's a long time in football, as we've all seen, so I can't tell you that [they'll return]," Griffin said.

"Only the players can tell you that, the ones who play Friday night and the three guys that have gone back [to the Intrust Super Premiership]."

In Moylan's case, the 25-year-old is into his second season as captain and has been criticised the most following the club's statement on Tuesday, however Griffin insisted the Australian international's captaincy was not under threat.

"That's not the issue… if Matt wants to be the captain of this club, I'm not going to stop him from doing that," he said.

"Maybe one day when we look back we'll see this as a point where it helped him assume that authority.

"It's not about making an example out of anyone or trying to be derogatory to anyone, we've got some things here that are important at our club and I've dealt with it the best way I thought.

"They were obviously disappointed, no one likes getting dropped but they understood the reasons and to their credit they didn't play the victim.

"We've got a really good culture here and we're proud of our club, players and everyone who works at the place but on the weekend sometimes I just thought it was important to take action from Saturday night."

Griffin also indicated Bryce Cartwright's return from an ankle injury was a week-to-week process, while James Fisher-Harris could have played against the Rabbitohs if the game was hypothetically a semi-final.

"He's [Cartwright] coming good… we keep saying next week but that's the type of injury it's been," Griffin said.

"We think he's going to be right but [the injury] is taking its time."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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