Maloney helping Panthers navigate growing injury list
Penrith could be without up to 10 regular first-graders for their clash with North Queensland in a week's time with Dylan Edwards the latest casualty set to spend time on the sidelines.
Edwards will have scans on an injured shoulder on Saturday after falling awkwardly with the ball as he was dragged down metres from the line in the first half.
Despite that, the Panthers were still able to record a 22-14 triumph over the Bulldogs on Friday night.
Four players have already been blooded by Penrith in 2018, and regular back-rowers Isaah Yeo and Corey Harawira-Naera are set to spend more time in the backline until other troops return.
"We're going through a bit of a patch but there's always opportunity," Panthers coach Anthony Griffin said.
"On the other side of adversity there is opportunity, and the guys who were given a chance – Hetherington and the two young hookers, Crichton – they're all doing their job.
"It was a strong win for us as a club, having a lot of changes every week and in the game I thought the Dogs were really good in the first 20 minutes with field position. They were pretty slick and committed.
"To be resilient and get back into the game was a real good sign for us as a team."
With small relief in sight for the Panthers, Griffin is banking on the returns of key players over the next month ahead of the Holden State of Origin period.
Peter Wallace is expected to return against the Cowboys after he was a late withdrawal due to a neck injury, while Tyrone May is on track to play his first game in 2018 pending a clearance from a specialist on Monday.
"If he's fit, he's a class player. He'll be short of a run but we might be able to use him off the bench," Griffin said of May.
"Particularly where we are [in terms of injuries], if he's available for selection I'd consider it.
"[Wallace] should be right next week, he's had a neck problem that required days off training and cortisone injections. On a short turnaround, it was just a bit too short."
Griffin described the growing injury toll as something he's never seen before at the club but heaped praise on the control of stand-in skipper James Maloney for guiding the side around the park.
Maloney said the loss to Cronulla sparked a response from the playing group.
"We probably missed the mark with energy last week and spoke about that," he said.
"It's unbelievable to play behind a pack that does what they do for us. I just point them around, they do all the hard work."