Souths lose forwards but name Mitchell to face Panthers
South Sydney will give Latrell Mitchell every chance to face Penrith on Thursday night, after losing key forwards Jai Arrow and Tevita Tataola for the heavyweight clash.
Mitchell sat out the contact session of Rabbitohs training on Tuesday, after hurting his knee in last weekend's win over Cronulla.
But the superstar fullback is adamant he will be fit to play come Thursday night, with the club already down on troops with Arrow (hamstring) and Tatola (concussion) ruled out.
Already without Hame Sele in the middle to start the season, Souths have called up Daniel Suluka-Fifita into a starting role at prop, while Jed Cartwright has been added to the bench.
Winger Izaac Thompson has also kept his spot on the wing ahead of Taane Milne, as the Rabbitohs hope for the best on Mitchell.
"He didn't train today with his knee issue, but I think we're just looking after him," hooker Damien Cook said on Tuesday.
"He's told me he's playing, and he is a man of his word is Latrell."
Gold Coast have also taken a similar approach with Kieran Foran's knee, amid fears he had suffered a PCL tear on Sunday against Wests Tigers.
Foran has been named to face St George Illawarra on Sunday night, with Jayden Campbell likely to take his spot at five-eighth if he does not recover in time.
Other clubs have already decided to take a more cautious approach early in the season.
Nicho Hynes has been held back for another week at Cronulla as he battles a calf injury and will miss Friday's match against Parramatta.
Sydney Roosters will also hold Jared Waerea-Hargreaves back another week after his back injury, but have named Joey Manu to return at right centre against the Warriors.
Teammate Victor Radley will also be given every chance to play by coach Trent Robinson after last week's concussion in the loss to the Dolphins, while Matt Lodge is out with his facial injury.
Reece Walsh is back at fullback for Brisbane in their clash with an unchanged North Queensland, with Selwyn Cobbo to revert to the wing.
Tyran Wishart will be the man to fill Cameron Munster's No.6 jersey at Melbourne after the five-eighth's sickening finger injury, but Xavier Coates has a chance to face Canterbury despite a shoulder injury.
Wests Tigers have opted to wait another week on John Bateman after his late arrival from England, with coach Tim Sheens naming Joe Ofahengaue at lock against Newcastle.
Apisai Koroisau is also listed to start after coming off the bench in his first game for the club last week.
Newcastle will welcome back Dane Gagai from a hamstring injury for Sunday's match, but have lost Adam Elliott to a groin complaint.
Elsewhere, the Dragons have named Talatau Amone on an extended bench for their first game of the year against the Titans after he was released from his NRL-imposed stand-down.
Amone is expected to come back through reserve grade, with Jayden Sullivan at five-eighth and Jack Bird named at lock after his pre-season knee surgery.