The Penrith Panthers have suffered another setback in their pre-season preparations with confirmation winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is set to miss the opening round against Parramatta with an ankle injury.
Watene-Zelezniak left the training paddock on Friday following a routine training run and scans have confirmed the flyer faces a six-week recovery for a high ankle sprain, which means he is hoping to be back on the field for round two.
The Kiwi international faced a similar start to the 2017 season with minor knee surgery keeping him out of the opening two games of the year.
The Panthers are already without injured pair Tyrone Phillips (pectoral muscle) and Tyrone May (knee) to go with the departures of former skipper Matt Moylan (Cronulla Sharks), Peta Hiku (Warriors), Michael Oldfield (Canberra Raiders) and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Wests Tigers) in the backline over the past 12 months.
Tyrone Peachey, who has been heavily linked to the Gold Coast Titans in 2019, is expected to replace Watene-Zelezniak in the backline with Fijian representative Waqa Blake, who is racing the clock to be fit for the opening round following a shoulder reconstruction, likely to start on the wing.
Penrith will play the Sydney Roosters in the club's first trial at Panthers Stadium on February 17.