Panthers players have conceded losing strike second-rower Viliame Kikau due to suspension would be a massive blow to their grand final hopes as the Fiji star prepares to challenge a grade one dangerous throw charge.
Kikau faces a one-match suspension if he enters an early plea due to loading and carry-over points from previous offences or if he is found guilty by the NRL judiciary, and Penrith officials will decide on Sunday whether he appears at Tuesday night's hearing.
With the Panthers just one win away from their first grand final since 2003 after downing the Sydney Roosters 29-28 in a gripping start to the NRL play-offs series, Penrith team-mates admit Kikau would be a huge loss on their left edge.
"I obviously don't want to lose Kiks," halfback Nathan Cleary said after his three-try effort against the Roosters.
"He is a massive part of this team. He is an absolute freak. I don't know any halves that would like to tackle him. I have to defend him at training sometimes and it is a nightmare.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Roosters
"He is a massive presence in our team, he is an X-factor on our left edge and he draws a lot of attention too so fingers crossed."
Five-eighth Jarome Luai, who has developed a lethal combination with Kikau, centre Stephen Crichton and winger Josh Mansour on Penrith's left edge, believed the star forward had tried to ensure Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves landed safely.
"I was around that tackle and I didn't think he landed on his head or it was too bad," Luai said. "If we do lose Kiks, he is a massive influence for us. Kiks is very important, he is one of our strike weapons."
Kikau penalised for lifting tackle
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said after the match that he thought Kikau's size and strength made the tackle look worse than it was and Luai agreed.
"He is definitely a big body but he can do it all and he is a special player," Luai said. "He thinks he is smaller than he is so he just throws his body everywhere not knowing that he can hurt us. That is Kiks, that is his nature and I enjoy playing with Kiks."
The win against the Roosters was Penrith's 16th in succession and players admitted they had been nervous before the start of what is the first finals campaign for most members of the young squad.
"We tried to play like the rest of the games on this winning streak and I thought we did that pretty well," Nathan Cleary said. "The intensity definitely goes up in finals footy and you have got to play for the full 80 minutes, there is no down period.
"There is so much we can work on but I think that is the exciting thing. It is great to get the week off because there are a lot of boys getting niggles after playing so many games in a row but there is a lot to get better at and we are just looking forward to it."