Sean O’Sullivan is preparing to play his part for the Panthers in “any way possible” but hasn’t given up hope of featuring in more games this year ahead of Nathan Cleary's comeback on Friday.
Cleary is expected to be named to return for this weekend’s grand final rematch against South Sydney in a clash that is fitting for the Clive Churchill medal winner after spending the past six months on the sidelines following shoulder surgery.
For O’Sullivan, who watched last year’s NRL grand final with some of his former Warriors teammates on the Gold Coast, he’s just as excited as everyone at the club to see Cleary return.
“I’m stoked, and even though it means that my role will change now I knew that when I first signed here,” O’Sullivan told NRL.com.
“Nath’s confident and ready to go. Taking the three extra weeks will hold him in good stead for this weekend’s game.
“It was the main reason I did, to learn off Nathan and Jarome. I was so thankful to get a few games with the calibre of team we have.”
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Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is relatively settled with his spine combinations ahead of Cleary’s return with Mitch Kenny coming off the bench at hooker in recent weeks.
However, O’Sullivan wants to play a role for the side throughout the year and is hoping for a bench spot, in a similar way former Panther Tyrone May was used during last season’s premiership run.
“I wouldn’t say no to anything, I’ll do anything for Ivan and the boys,” O'Sullivan said.
“I’ll help prepare the boys as best I can, whether that’s running Souths’ shapes at training this week then I’ll do that, it’s a pretty standard thing across the whole of the NRL now.”
The Panthers are 3-0 to start the season but were pushed for most of the match against an undermanned Knights side last week who lost enforcer Mitch Barnett in the first half for a dangerous contact incident.
Barnett will learn his fate at the NRL Judiciary on Tuesday night as the Panthers turn their focus to an improved performance against the Rabbitohs.
"The grand final rematch will be unreal," O'Sullivan said.
"There hasn’t been much chat about it. There might be at the end of the week but in the end it’s just another NRL game for this year and you want the two points.
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"Errors and penalties have been letting us down the last few weeks, we’ve been letting teams off the hook so internally we want to be a bit more ruthless there," he said.
"Nothing is going to be perfect in the first three weeks. We’ve won and been learning lessons and that’s the most important thing. We can definitely play a lot better."