Charlie Staines is setting a cracking pace with six tries in his first two NRL games but injuries and his own "pretty dumb" decision have curtailed his fledgling career.
The rookie winger, who scored two tries against Manly on the weekend in his first game since scoring four on debut against Cronulla last month, will miss Saturday's clash with the Raiders and at least the next three rounds.
Staines hurt his hamstring - diagnosed on Monday as a grade-two tear - scoring the second of his two tries against the Sea Eagles in the 42-12 win at Lottoland last Saturday night.
The 19-year-old speedster is also battling lock-jaw, where the muscles in neck spasm and keep his jaw tightly closed.
It's been recurring since the 2020 pre-season and raised its head again after Staines scored four tries in his debut against the Sharks in round nine.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Panthers
"I got hit in the pre-season and it's been playing up ever since then," he said.
"It locked up again two weeks ago and stayed out. I had to go to hospital because it was out for too many hours. It got a bit worse then but it's all good now."
Staines did not inform his club of the hospital visit, in breach of the COVID-19 protocols for all NRL clubs, and he also broke the rules by having too many people at his house celebrating his four-try blitz on debut, earning him a 14-day stint in quarantine.
Staines picks up where he left off
Considering Staines's talent at accumulating points, coach Ivan Cleary could be forgiven for being annoyed his young back for neglecting to follow the rules.
But Staines found a sympathetic ear.
"He said 'I'm not against you for anything you did, just keep your head up'," he said.
Staines making this try-scoring caper look easy
"I missed two weeks so I know what I did was pretty dumb."
Cleary said it was a wonderful sight to see the Forbes Magpies junior's pace off the mark.
"There's not too many like that. His speed is obviously one of his assets. Unfortunately, he can't put two games together," the coach said.
The hamstrings are a concern.
"They worried me a few times last year actually – had a few hammy problems in both legs," Staines said.
"I've just got to be better there with my recovery and whatnot.
"There was no warning this might happen. I trained really well, thought I did all the right things, but I need to work harder."
The speed became evident when he dabbled in athletics at high school.
"I was always one of the faster kids. I always played footy and loved to run fast."
Get Caught Up: Round 12
His Panthers teammates – especially his halfback – love having him run freely.
"He's absolute lightning. That's why everyone calls him 'The Ferrari'," halfback Nathan Cleary said.
"Some of the things he does at training are unbelievable but it seems like he's only in third gear.
Every try from round 12
"But then off the mark … that try he scored [against Manly], geez, there's not too many people who could score that. It's a pleasure playing with people like that – their finishing ability.
"You look at him and 'Sauce' [Josh Mansour]. Sauce is obviously so strong but he's not very fast … then you've got Charlie who's super-fast who's probably not as strong in his yardage carries.
"So you give the ball to Charlie in some space and watch him go."