Penrith skipper James Tamou is confident disgruntled outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will put his differences with club management aside and help the Panthers fix their crippling injury crisis if he's named to face the Sea Eagles for Thursday night's clash.
The Panthers have been left with a huge void in the centres ahead of their team selection announcement on Tuesday afternoon with Waqa Blake and Dean Whare both ruled out for extended periods through injury.
Watene-Zelezniak didn't play in any grade last week as he weighs up his short-and long-term future at the club after Penrith officials confirmed the Kiwis captain had been given permission to speak with rival teams.
The 24-year-old has not yet asked for an official release from the remaining 18 months of his contract and Tamou said his attitude towards the team had not changed.
"From what I've seen he's the same bloke," Tamou said.
"His attitude has been unreal, just having him around the boys he's still got that lift. Until I hear words come out of his mouth and I've always said to him if he needs anyone to talk to but I haven't heard anything.
"I care about Dal, he's a world class player, an international. Mentally I want to make sure he's alright first. As captain and a friend his wellbeing is more important. I know these things can take a toll and the last thing I want is him giving up footy or anything like that.
Match: Panthers v Sea Eagles
Round 12 -
Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
"He is definitely a leader here and the boys look up to him. He wears his emotions out loud and isn't afraid to let his voice heard. He loves Penrith and they've obviously done a lot for him. It would take a lot for him to go.
"I'm not buying into anything yet. We'll wait for him, everything has been normal and hasn't changed one bit."
Panthers teammate Isaah Yeo said comparing Watene-Zeleniak's demotion to that of Josh Mansour and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who fired via Canterbury Cup in response, was unfair.
"There's obviously other factors going into that. It's different situations with the three," Yeo said.
"I don't know what the go is there, that's between him and Ivan. It would be nice to have him out on the park. He's a Kiwi international, he's an asset for any side. He's still upbeat and smiley. From an outsider looking in you wouldn't think anything was going on there."
Penrith are expected to name Jarome Luai alongside James Maloney in the halves with Nathan Cleary on Blues duty.