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Panthers utility Tyrone May.

Tyrone May's versatility was on full display against the Storm as he reprised a fullback role he hasn't filled since under-20s – but that utility value is precisely why he won't be Penrith's fullback while Dylan Edwards is recovering from a broken hand.

May played out the second half of the last-gasp 12-10 win at the back; his positional play and defence belied the fact he hadn't played there in so long and while he was disappointed with two handling errors, both came under extreme pressure.

May told NRL.com his last stint at fullback came in the under-20s and ended when current assistant coach and former under-20s coach Cameron Ciraldo decided his future lay in other positions.

"I was a bit lighter back then when I was training at fullback the whole time," he said.

"It was all right – I made two errors so I kinda stuffed up there. You have to ice them in case they could have scored but lucky that we had good defence there, they saved my butt a couple of times."

May said he got pushed from the halves back to fullback at junior level to accommodate the emergence of Nathan Cleary.

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"He took over in the halves and they found a spot for me at fullback," May added.

"It helps so much, Romey (Jarome Luai), Nath, I played with them all through school.

"The first time I got put back to fullback I had to learn the game and a big help to that was Adam Hartigan (current Wests Tigers football manager who was a coach at Patrician Brothers Blacktown while May was a student) who threw me back there for the first time.

"I think it was because I wasn't good enough to be in the halves at school so they found a spot for me at fullback. Then just learning the role there."

May sees his utility as a blessing rather than the curse that has stopped plenty of talented players over the years nailing down a starting spot.

"I guess I'm lucky that when I came through I always changed positions," he said.

"I guess people see that as a curse but it's kind of a blessing because if stuff like that does happen I can jump in with no hesitation.

"The year I had off, 18 months or something, I studied the game a fair bit and hopefully that helps, if I get thrown in anywhere, to do the job."

Coach Ivan Cleary said he had every confidence in May at the back but would be reluctant to lose his utility from the interchange.

"Losing Dyl Edwards at half-time was a tough one but T-May showed his versatility," Cleary said.

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"I don't think he's played fullback for 10 years or something. We've spoken about who would play fullback, you always have ideas about who would go wherever. The other option was Critter (Stephen Crichton) but T-May told us during the week if we need him he'll be ready at fullback.

"He'll go anywhere. I'm not sure if he totally believed that at half-time but anyway. He did his job.

"One of the reasons he went there is he understands every position on the field, which is unusual."

May confirmed Cleary's version of events that he had been haggling for a chance at fullback.

"I told him last week it would be good to go back there and play fullback," May laughed.

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"I kind of joked around with Dyl and said 'if you get injured I'll take your spot'. We'll see what happens, hopefully he's all right.

"If they don't have a fullback in mind, we've got a few boys that can play fullback and maybe they'll get a crack. If I get put there I don't mind and if I get put in the utility spot I don't mind either way."

The Panthers are short on backs with Rob Jennings and Brent Naden each unavailable for at least one more week. Winger Charlie Staines played fullback through juniors and Paul Momirovski has also played fullback but it will be Crichton, who played there at times for Penrith last year, to take the role for now with Matt Burton finding a place in the centres in round four against Manly.

 

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