Immigration issue could spell disaster for Panthers

Penrith forward Viliame Kikau is in doubt for the Panthers’ crucial NRL clash against the Warriors due to visa issues.

The Panthers have been working with immigration officials in a bid to claim Australian residency status for the Fijian citizen. Otherwise, he risks being locked out of the country.

“He can leave the country on his Fijian passport but wouldn’t be able to return to Australia,” Gould told News Corp Australia.

“He would have to go back to Fiji and apply again to come to Australia.

“If he leaves Australia now, his Australian residency application would be compromised. Trying to get assistance but it’s a complicated process.”

Kikau’s uncertain status would be a blow for a Panthers side fell out of the top four following Saturday’s upset loss to Newcastle.

Viliame Kikau could miss this weekend’s clash. Pic: Getty

The Panthers are equal with the fourth-placed Dragons, as well as sixth-placed Cronulla, on 30 points with two games remaining in the regular season.

Kikau would likely be replaced by Corey Harawira-Naera should he be ruled out for Friday’s game.

The Panthers leave for Auckland on Wednesday.

“We won’t make him travel unless we can get him home,” Gould said.

“It’s not ideal in the short term but respect for the longer term that Billy is very passionate about gaining his Australian residency.”

Panthers bracing for axe to fall

Veteran James Tamou insists Penrith players will cop being dropped – if it means arresting their alarming NRL form slump.

The Panthers are in danger of being finals fodder after being made to pay for yet another slow start in Saturday’s loss to Newcastle.

Tamou said caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo had every right to turn the blowtorch on his men and forecast changes to their starting line-up just two weeks out from the finals.

“Every time you come off a performance like that everyone has to look at themselves and be accountable,” Tamou said on Monday.

“We’re looking to do big things here. We’re chasing perfection.

“If (changes) may be the case, so be it. Everyone understands. There’s no egos in this team. People will put their hand up, I know I’ll put my hand up and say I need to be better.

“Others will as well.”

After appearing in the run-on side for the past six weeks, Tamou returned to the bench for the Knights match where he has started from for the majority of this season.

The former Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin representative said he was open to any role Ciraldo would ask of him – and so should the rest of the team.

“Whether it be starting or coming off the bench, anyone will put their hand up and that’ll be their role Everyone’s accountable here and everyone puts their hand up,” he said.

“If they feel the need to be coming off the bench, or starting, I’m the same. If that’s my role on the bench, I’ll make it my role and do my best for the team.”

James Fisher-Harris is likely to be one change to the team that were muzzled by the Knights, having missed the clash with a shoulder injury.

“He just needed to give his shoulder a week’s rest and get himself right for this week. He’ll add a lot of punch for our team once we get back out there,” teammate Trent Merrin said.

One player who is unlikely to be recalled is playmaker James Maloney, who only comes out of a knee brace this week.

The Panthers are currently in fifth spot but face the challenge of facing the Warriors and defending premiers Melbourne on the road for their final two games of the regular season.