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Penrith confidence 'rock bottom' says Cleary

A deflated Ivan Cleary concedes the Panthers' confidence is at "rock bottom" after slumping to their sixth consecutive loss for the first time in 17 years following their 30-10 defeat to the Warriors on Friday night.

Cleary wielded the axe last week with big name stars Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Josh Mansour sent for a stint in reserve grade but the changes did little to spark the side as the Warriors comfortably led 24-0 midway through the second half.

The night was summed up for Cleary's outfit when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Dylan Edwards collided in heavy fashion with neither calling for the ball at the northern end of the ground.

Match Highlights: Panthers v Warriors

"I think it's there for all to see where we're at," Cleary said.

"We're beaten in most areas of the game. That's where it's at. One thing leads to another, I guess you could probably say that what could go wrong does go wrong.

"Tonight showed we're low on confidence. It is a confidence thing, it's at rock bottom. That was obvious tonight. We can't seem to kick on and get that little boost.

"I don't have all the answers for sure but we're working away in the background. There's a few things we need to fix along the way."

Many rugby league experts tipped the Panthers to challenge for the title in 2019 but their hopes of making the Telstra Premiership finals are fading by the week. No side has ever won a competition following a 2-8 start to the year while it's officially the worst start to a season for the club since 2002.

Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary.
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Cleary could only grin when asked whether expectations were over the top.

"It sure was, probably too high. We didn't set it there so it's just how it is," Cleary said.

"The crucial thing is we actually come together as a team because right now we're not. We're working away in the background. I think the team, we must come together as a team.

"It's tough times certainly, these times there's opportunities for everyone to stand up and look forward."

The Panthers face an away trip to Bankwest Stadium next Thursday for a rematch with Parramatta and Cleary was unsure whether further squad changes would be made.

Campbell-Gillard and Mansour will play in Canterbury Cup NSW at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.

"I'm not sure, I'll sit back and take stock," Cleary said.

"Those changes were made for a reason."

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