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Depleted Panthers not expecting Origin stars to face Sharks

The Panthers are not expecting their rep stars to back up against the Sharks 48 hours after Origin I in a decision that could see them relinquish top spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.

After winning 12 straight games to start the season, the depleted Panthers trained on Monday with centre Stephen Crichton suggesting the side was preparing as though those on state duties won't be required after the series opener. 

The Panthers lead the competition by two points but Melbourne's gutsy win over the Titans last week has them within reach of skipping ahead if the Panthers were to drop back-to-back games on Friday night.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will name his extended squad on Tuesday afternoon and, while he may name his Origin contingent, the club could gain an exemption to call in players at the last minute on Thursday. 

NSW's 18th man, Panthers hooker Api Koroisau, could be the only player to be available should he not be used by the Blues, while Liam Martin may also play pending his minutes in Origin. 

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"We're not expecting any of the boys to play, I don't think," Crichton told NRL.com.

"I don't think they will and I don't think the coaches are expecting them to either. It just gives us a good chance again to step up.

"We're not the younger boys anymore. We have to help lead the boys through."

Panthers forward Matt Eisenhuth offered a similar response, with the Origin players due to fly back from Townsville to Sydney on Thursday afternoon.

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"It's a big ask for them to back up two days later and especially with some travel in between," Eisenhuth said.

"We're preparing as though it's going to be close to the same team from last week.

"We always knew it would be a challenge this year with Origin but in saying that the players and coaching staff have got full faith in the squad we have."

Eisenhuth said the side "played into the Tigers' hands" last week but would be better for the experience after being without several first-grade regulars in their first loss of the season. 

They'll face a fresh Sharks outfit coming off a bye and not affected by Origin.

"We've got to review what went wrong last week and improve by keeping it simple," Eisenhuth said.

"We were disappointed but we just didn't execute our game plan and it wasn't up to standards.

"We knew things weren't going to be perfect but in saying that we back ourselves to do the little things right and be in it until the end. We'll definitely be better for it."