Panthers stars face another huge Origin test

Matt Encarnacion
Reagan-Campbell Gillard and his fellow Penrith Origin stars will back up for the Panthers

It's perhaps the biggest lesson a State of Origin rookie can learn - and it comes well after the glow from their Origin debut subsides.

Despite having just two days to recover from arguably the biggest match of their careers, Penrith's young trio of Origin debutants are expected to back up against Canberra on Friday.

While James Maloney has plenty of experience on returning to club land after tasting the Origin highs, Nathan Cleary, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tyrone Peachey are uninitiated.

Griffin confirmed club medical staff had given the quartet a clean bill of health after the series-opener, and expects all four to take the field against the Raiders.

"We'll check them when we get there after they've done some rehab but at this stage it looks positive that they'll all play," Griffin said on Thursday.

Griffin pointed to the recent representative retirement of Cameron Smith as proof of player burnout, however stressed the importance of his youngsters maintaining their club form.

The Panthers have won three on the trot and are leading the competition.

"From drawing a line (to) Cameron Smith, that was one of the main reasons he retired, he felt he couldn't back up for his club," Griffin said.

"They're pretty proud these days, players. We don't ever want to put them in a position where they risk injury but if they're fit to play and want to play, it's important that they do.

"If you want to be an Origin player, the important thing is you can get your club stuff done."

Griffin has experience in managing player workload in his time as coach of Brisbane, who have perennially provided the bulk of the Maroons squad since its inception.

"I know with my experience with the guys in Brisbane - we used to play a lot of Friday nights - they found it a lot easier to play Friday night than if we had a Sunday game," he said.

Griffin was full of praise for halves Maloney and Cleary, who have played just five games together for the Panthers this year due to a knee injury to the No.7, against the Maroons.

"Nathan's defence was a real highlight for me. I thought he exceeded all expectations the way he handled that last night. He ran the ball when he needed to," he said.

"His kicking game was good, he was error free. You couldn't have hoped for a better debut.

"Jimmy I thought just controlled that game beautifully. The longer it went, the more impact he had on it. To have that experienced head there, it was a major factor in NSW's victory."

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Raiders have won nine of their past 13 against Penrith at GIO Stadium.

* Penrith are aiming for consecutive wins at GIO Stadium for just the second time in their history, and first since 2004.

* If Penrith concede less than 23 points, it will be their best defensive start to a season in the NRL era.