Smith ready for Broncos challenge if Fisher-Harris out


Lindsay Smith has declared he is ready to replace James Fisher-Harris in Penrith's grand-final rematch against Brisbane if the star prop forward is ruled out.

The Panthers have told AAP that Fisher-Harris will go for scans on Sunday after hurting his shoulder early in Friday night's 26-18 victory over Parramatta.

Fisher-Harris left the match with 15 minutes to play in the first half and did not return from the sheds.

Penrith expect to know by early this week whether Fisher-Harris could suit up for Thursday night's home clash against the Broncos, who lost to the Panthers in the epic 2023 decider.

Smith appears the likeliest candidate to come into the side should Fisher-Harris fail to recover in time.

Replacing one of the best middle forwards in the NRL is no mean feat but Smith will lean on his experience starting in place of Moses Leota midway through last season.

For three straight weeks in late 2023, Ivan Cleary experimented with shifting Smith to the starting side and using Leota as an impact player from the bench in place of the injured Spencer Leniu.

The Panthers won all three of those games, two against eventual top-eight sides Cronulla and Melbourne.

"I started a few games last year and I was confident with those performances," Smith told AAP.

"It's obviously a lot faster at the start of games, a lot faster and a bit more physical. You've just got to be up for it.

"Whatever happens (with Fisher-Harris), happens. That'd be up to 'Iv' if circumstances come that way.

"I think I'm ready (to start) but we'll see what happens."

Starting at prop on Thursday would mean going toe-to-toe with Brisbane's elite middle man Payne Haas, Dally M prop of the year in each of the last three seasons.

Smith will take lessons learned from three prior seasons in the Panthers' top 30 squad if faced with a match-up against Haas.

"He's a massive powerhouse and he's an unbelievable player but you've just got to get ready and accept the challenge," said Smith.

"You get a lot of confidence (from Leota and Fisher-Harris), obviously you learn off them. I've been learning off them ever since I got into the first-grade squad.

"In my opinion, for the last three or four years, they've been the best two front-rowers together as a pack. To come up against them at training, there's no better training than to verse them."