Leotta said it’s a role he doesn’t aspire to but would take on until the heavyweight trooper returns.
the panthers have lost Taylor May Liam Martin is battling a hamstring problem amid a knee injury season, while Izack Tago (chest strain) last weekend. Nathan Cleary also lost to the Souths with a groin problem but is expected to start against the Tigers.
Losing Leniu is a blow to the Panthers, especially considering the way the Roosters-bound prop has made the most of the extra minutes he’s gotten in Fisher-Harris’ absence.
“I really don’t [relish the role]but if I have to, I will,” Lyotta said.
“It’s something I have to do this week. The coach wants me to step up and I will.
“‘Spence’ has made an impact off the bench, he’s been great the last few weeks since ‘Fish’ was out, he’ll be a big loss.
“If I’m playing the way I’ve been playing the last couple of weeks, everything should go to plan.”
Henry, 21, grew up in Blaney, a suburb of Bathurst, and made his debut against the Cowboys in the final round of the regular season last year. Few players have a bigger cheerleading squad at Carrington Park.
“Liam was a workhorse, he did everything right, he worked hard in training and did all the extra work,” Lyotta said.
“He’s going to come out with a buzz, and his whole family is here. It should be a big game for him.”
The Panthers and Tigers have had some good games in recent years, with Tigers captain Api Koroisau returning to his old club.
Koroisau jumps on stage to headlines after Panthers Finals win mocking the tigers’ chances of winning the game. Eight rounds later, the Tigers are still winless, and even the rustiest fan will find it hard to argue.
Another easily overlooked storyline is the level of intimacy between Koroisau and Penrith coach Ivan Cleary, who broke down when he handed his jersey to a prostitute the night before last year’s tiebreaker.
The Tigers gave it their all against Manly, who couldn’t have been worse last week, and still lost.
Leotta has excelled in the Mountain Boys and says his recent contract extension, which runs until the end of 2027, will only motivate him to “give back the faith” even more.
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