Penrith back-rower Viliame Kikau was as surprised as anybody after powering through his comeback game last week against the Wests Tigers.

Kikau was stinging to play after six weeks out with a knee injury and returned in peak condition, much to the delight of Panthers medical staff.

He was planning to be eased into Friday night's golden-point win after missing the opening three rounds of the season recovering from a MCL strain suffered in the trials.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary made the late switch to start the Fijian international on the bench after naming him in the run-on side earlier in the week but a knee injury to Frank Winterstein in the seventh minute had Kikau on the paddock sooner than anticipated.

"I was cruising through warm-up. They told me I'll be on the bench, cruise through warm-up and we'll get you to do some runs on the sidelines before you go in," Kikau said.

"I didn't even do a run on the sideline. As soon as I saw big Frank go down I knew I would be the one there.

"I surprised myself, I played the whole game. I got positive feedback from the trainers, they were surprised as well after missing five weeks."

Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau.
Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Kikau told NRL.com in February of his intentions to go temporarily vegan as a way to help fast track and aid his recovery.

He churned out 113 metres in his return game, including 52 post contact metres, with two tackle busts and a line break in 77 minutes.

"The knee was feeling good, 100 percent. During the week I worked hard on getting my confidence back like stepping off my right foot and spinning around," Kikau said.

"I did a good workout with our wrestle coach and I was confident throughout the game."

Despite being perplexed at a no-try ruling against him in the second half, his next steps on Friday night against the Gold Coast are simple - to build a combination with a new-look left edge.

Nathan Cleary and Dean Whare are the newcomers on a left side that used to include James Maloney and Waqa Blake last season, who are now based on the right.

Ivan Cleary has issued a clear message for Kikau to continue his damaging ways and help the new men alongside him.

"He's told me to take a bit of ownership on the edge," Kikau said.

"Last year was my first proper year in the NRL and I was a bit quiet, not communicating well with the halves on my edge.

"We had heaps of respect for Jimmy, I was keen to tell him how I want the ball and what lines I'm working.

"This year he's told me to get the communication up a bit with Nath coming around, he's been helping me."