Penrith veteran James Maloney says he's ready to hand back the attacking keys to Nathan Cleary when the halfback makes his anticipated NRL return against the Wests Tigers on Thursday.
Maloney has steered the Panthers to second on the ladder despite the club's injury crisis, which included the absence of Cleary for the past seven weeks.
However after insisting the 20-year-old was the team's chief playmaker prior to the season, Maloney has welcomed the opportunity to go back to riding shotgun against the Tigers.
"It's the same mate. He'll come back in and do his job. I go back to five-eighth and we just keep building that combination," Maloney told AAP.
"He had a couple of games, so hopefully we can build on it and try and continue to make it flourish."
Cleary also comes back with just two matches remaining before rookie NSW coach Brad Fittler selects his team for the opening game of the State of Origin series.
Maloney, who is the Blues' incumbent five-eighth, believed Cleary had claimed enough credits with his play prior to his knee injury and predicted an immediate return to form.
"I thought he was impressive at the start of the year so no doubt, he's fit as a fiddle," Maloney said.
"If he's right to go, he'll come back and won't miss a beat. That selection is out of his hands, that's out of our hands. But he'll come back and play well for us, that's for sure."
While all eyes will be on Cleary, Maloney urged his teammates to continue to show the resilience that has so far been the backbone of their rise up the competition table.
Equal on 14 points with the Warriors, the Panthers are just two ahead of a pack of five teams on 12.
"At the moment it's keeping us above that big logjam, which is where you need to sit. There's always a lot of sides that go win-loss-win-loss. You need to keep yourself above that," he said.