Viliame Kikau believes a forced week on the sidelines came at the right time as Penrith's performance staff continue to manage training loads as opposed to resting players before the finals.
The Panthers guaranteed themselves a top-four spot in Kikau's absence following their 30-6 win over the Wests Tigers on Saturday to remain three points clear of the Storm in the race for the minor premiership.
A round 18 clash against top-four rivals Parramatta could prove critical to the side's chances of finishing on top of the Telstra Premiership ladder but before that they must overcome the struggling Brisbane Broncos in enemy territory.
Kikau's return from a one-week suspension from a dangerous contact charge in round 15 coincides with Kurt Capewell's comeback from a knee injury.
After 11 wins in a row, Kikau said no one in the squad was interested in sitting on the sidelines despite a top-four spot being wrapped up.
"I'm feeling really good, obviously after the boys won the game on the weekend it was tough watching from the sideline," Kikau said.
"None of us want to miss games, we'd rather have a rest at training and get ourselves right for the game.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Wests Tigers
"The training staff have been helping out the players. We have some players who just sit out and rest in those sessions.
"But this week I'm jumping to be amongst the boys again and looking forward to Thursday."
Panthers forward and former Roosters premiership-winner Zane Tetevano said the team could ill-afford to think about the prospect of claiming the minor premiership honours this early before the finals.
The Panthers face the Cowboys and Bulldogs, who are both fighting to avoid the wooden spoon, to finish the regular season.
"It [finishing first] hasn't been spoken about in the workplace, you've got to keep going especially at training, that's where it all starts," Tetevano said.
"It's been great but we've got a lot to improve. It's positive around the workplace and a lot of work has been put in but other than that we're still learning from games.
"From last week's games, just little defensive areas ... They scored first which was a different scenario for us, how did we adapt … I thought we did well.
"You can't be complacent though, every team is still tough. The Broncos will come out hard and try to stamp their authority in Brisbane."
Panthers hooker Api Koroisau (calf) was named in the 21-man squad this week with a decision on his fitness to be made on Thursday.