Koroisau's NRL replacement feels the heat

Darren Walton
Api Koroisau's elbow injury has handed Mitch Kenny his first outing for Penrith since round four

Mitch Kenny knows he's no Api Koroisau and has no plans on trying to emulate the flashy Fijian when he makes his long-awaited return for NRL pacesetters Penrith.

Koroisau has been among the competition's form players in 2020, well in the Dally M Medal hunt and integral to the Panthers climbing to outright top of the table for the first time in 17 years.

But Koroisau an elbow injury, sustained in Penrith's comeback win over North Queensland on Sunday, has ruled the classy hooker out for at least two weeks.

The setback will allow Kenny to make his first appearance since round four.

And the 22-year-old can't deny he has big boots to fill against Gold Coast on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium.

"I'll be honest, there are a little bit of nerves. He's been in red-hot form and he's such an important part of our team on and off the field," he said on Wednesday.

"But I'm not going to try and go out there and be Api. I'm just going to be myself and try to do my role as best I can for the team

"I'm sure if everyone's doing their job around me, there's no reason I can't contribute towards us getting another win."

Very much the antithesis to the lively Koroisau, the no-frills hooker has the full backing of his Panthers teammates.

"He's a really hard-working No.9," lock Isaah Yeo said.

"When he came into the side last year for that sort of run, we saw everyone just bounced off his energy.

"He's out there, you know what you're going to get from him. He's going to keep turning up for his teammates, he's the ultimate team man and everyone loves playing beside him.

"Obviously it's disappointing to see Api out in the form he's in, how good he's been going for us, but it's a great opportunity for Mitch and he's more than capable filling in there."

Kenny will be making his 15th top-grade appearance for Penrith, having made his debut only last year, and says he's tapped into the experience of Koroisau, a premiership winner with South Sydney in 2014.

"He's been incredible, he's an unreal player," Kenny said.

"I don't have the subtleties and trickery of Api but I've learnt a few things off him and this week I'm going to play with a lot of energy and stay direct and try to keep us to the plan and make sure everything is running smoothly."

As well as Koroisau, centre Dean Whare (thigh) also faces two weeks on the sidelines, but the Panthers are hopeful fullback Dylan Edwards (hamstring) will only miss one match.