Nathan Cleary in fresh Panthers development only weeks out from Origin selection

The Panthers halfback has signalled his intention upon his return.

Nathan Cleary has tried to allay fears over his troublesome hamstring on the weekend and sent a warning to the resurgent Bulldogs this week as he looks to link up with the in-form Dylan Edwards. Cleary was expected to play against Souths on Thursday night last week, but only 24 hours from the NRL game coach Ivan Cleary opted to leave the halfback out to give his left hamstring extra time to recover.

This was because the Panthers had a short recovery between games having left North Queensland to return home late with just five days to turn around for the Rabbitohs clash. Having only played one game since his return from the sideline, coach Cleary opted to rest the No.7.

Nathan Cleary (pictured) is set to return for the Panthers this week and has sent a warning shot to his rivals ahead of Origin. (Getty Images)
Nathan Cleary (pictured) is set to return for the Panthers this week and has sent a warning shot to his rivals ahead of Origin. (Getty Images)

Fans were left disappointed and it only left more question marks over Cleary's fitness and whether he can string a number of games together. This comes after Cleary missed Games I and II of Origin for the Blues last year due to a right hamstring injury.

And in an attempt to allay fears over another stint on the sidelines, Cleary told The Sydney Morning Herald it was only precautionary and he would be back. “We thought it was best not to risk it this early in the season, and because of the short turnaround, but I’m fine, and I trained Friday,” Cleary said after missing the game.

“I’ve done all the work and rehab. You could go into every game worrying about getting injured, and it’s a contact sport, but the hamstring is definitely not on my mind. You always have to look at the positives when you’re not playing, and what it has done is allowed me to feel mentally fresh. You get to see the game from a different perspective. I’m definitely ready to get back and play some good footy.”

Coach Ivan Cleary admitted last week that the coaching team didn't want to gamble on their halfback's injury against the Rabbitohs. Cleary admitted it was his call to replace him with Brad Schneider at the final moment.

Nathan Cleary's admission that he is returning fresh is a worrying statement for the Bulldogs side this week with the halfback set to join the likes of Dylan Edwards back into the team as the fullback looks to make a push for the Blues No.1 jersey.

Nathan Cleary catches the ball.
Nathan Cleary (pictured) is set to return this week for Panthers.

And while Cleary was trying to allay fears around his hamstring, he also showered teammate Edwards with praise after a six point Dally M performance against the Rabbitohs. The No.7 and Edwards have only played four games together this year and Cleary admitted he feels Edwards can go to another level with his game. In the 42-12 victory, Edwards was once again the standout as he pushes more pressure on James Tedesco for the No.1 jersey.


Edwards' impressive performance included 200 run metres, two line breaks, six tackle busts and a perfect seven from seven conversions with the boot. But it was the gun fullback's try assist for Taylan May that really stood out, with Edwards showing the sort of game awareness and execution that has many fans clamouring for his selection in the NSW Origin side.

Tedesco responded with his own stellar performance the following night as the Roosters hammered the Broncos 40-18. Tedesco was immense for the Roosters having delivered two try assists, two line breaks, nine tackle breaks and ran for 260 metres. Maguire will have a huge decision to make come Origin time with the Blues fullback position the most talked about dilemma facing the new coach.