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Panthers forward Jack Hetherington.

Firebrand prop Jack Hetherington will have a fortnight to force his way back into Ivan Cleary's finals line-up after returning to the club following a four-week suspension.

Hetherington returned to Penrith last month after taking an early guilty plea for a high shot on Sea Eagles prop Marty Taupau while he was on loan to the Warriors in round 13.

Cleary has named Hetherington on the bench for the side's trip to North Queensland after opting to rest skipper James Tamou and premiership-winning prop Zane Tetevano this week.

Hetherington made an impact for the Warriors during his six-game stint but faces an uphill battle to convince Cleary he's worthy of a hotly-contested spot in the Panthers' top 17.

"Jack's a popular member of our club and team and is still trying to find the balance in his game between that aggression and some tackle technique issues," Cleary said on Thursday.

Cowboys v Panthers - Round 19

"It's not all-out aggression. He's got some technical issues to his tackling that he's working hard on addressing.

"He hasn't played since round one for us but it was nice for him to get those games at the Warriors.

"It's nice to have some fresh energy in the team and this week we've got Jack, Mitch Kenny and Kurt Capewell."

Mitch Kenny's inclusion will give buy of the year candidate Api Koroisau another breather following a head knock last week.

The Panthers can secure the J.J. Giltinan Shield and ensure top spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder with a win over the Cowboys in North Queensland on Friday evening. 

Koroisau no longer dazed, nor distracted by sky blue dream

"I would never rest guys if it compromised our ability to win the game and this week is no different," Cleary said.

"We'd be proud to achieve [the minor premiership] and are certainly keen to get our hands on that.

"There's so much history on that shield and seeing the great teams who have won it recently (Storm and Roosters), that pretty much says it all for us to get into that company.

"It definitely gives us confidence but we've already got that with how we've been consistent as a team."

Should the Panthers tie up the minor premiership a week early, Cleary could look to give other players a rest in the final round before the finals.

The Panthers meet cellar-dwellers Canterbury to finish the regular season and among the names yet to have a week off this season include consistent prop James Fisher-Harris left edge guns Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton.

"We don't want to start jumping at shadows either, the boys are enjoying their football, they're football players and want to play," Cleary said.

"It's only really this week we feel we're in the best position to do it once we locked in the first final."

Cleary indicated rookie forward Spencer Leniu was expected to play after overcoming a head knock in last week's win over the Eels.

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