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Benched Kikau not kicking stones with TPJ powerplay in mind

Panthers forward Viliame Kikau is relishing the chance to provide a one-two punch with Tevita Pangai jnr from the bench as Ivan Cleary tinkers with his forward pack ahead of the finals.

Kikau was benched by Cleary a fortnight ago after a quiet effort by his own standards in round 22 but the Fijian international has responded since to coincide with Pangai's arrival at the club.

His 209-metre effort against Wests Tigers last week came with a season-high 11 tackle busts while he also stood up in the finals-like win over South Sydney a week earlier with 155 metres.

While Cleary may not use Kikau off the bench for the finals, the thought of him and Pangai coming onto the paddock after 20 minutes is a favourable one for the Panthers.

"I reckon it would be good for the team," Kikau said.

Crichton to take Turbo approach to backline switch

"I don't find it any different … coming off the bench after 20 minutes I try to bring that energy.

"I think we both love doing that and are looking forward to that, whatever the team needs we're ready to do it.

"He [Pangai] probably needs to get a couple more games under his belt going into the crunch time now.

"He's been really good for us coming off the bench as we saw last week. It's always good to carry the ball after those types of carries.

"That's what we're still trying to learn off him. He's got a lot of stuff in his game and he does a lot of talking at training which is good."

Match Highlights: Panthers v Wests Tigers

The Panthers were guilty of an error-riddled performance against the Tigers in the only concern for Cleary leading into the finals.

Their 63 percent completion rate on the weekend prompted some to question their attack ahead of a western Sydney showdown on Friday night with arch rivals Parramatta.

Kikau is among the side's biggest culprits with 23 handling errors for the season – the most of any forward in the competition. 

"Myself personally, I've been trying to cut down on the errors. The last month or so I was making heaps of errors for the team and it's not a good thing," Kikau said.

"It's not an excuse but it won't take that long for the boys to get back together and get the plays going."

Panthers teammate Liam Martin, who started for Kikau last week, said the return of several players including Nathan Cleary, Brian To'o and James Fisher-Harris had got the team searching for consistency before the finals.

Out of this world from Pangai

Last week's clash was the first time the Panthers had fielded a full-strength side since May. 

"Last year we were cruising a bit whereas this year we've had our ups and downs," Martin said.

"I reckon it will only benefit us, going through those adversities, it will hold us in good stead for when the tougher games come around.

"I only see it as a positive."

Martin added he will use last year's finals experience in the next month of the competition as the Panthers look to go one better this season.

"I'll just take in the intensity it's played at," he said.

"I didn't know what to expect last year. It was my first finals series and we weren't sure of what to expect during the week. I think we'll all be better prepared for that."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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