Panthers name full strength side - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Panthers name full strength side

By Laine Clark 31/08/2004 09:19:41 PM Comments (0)

The cavalry has returned for the Penrith Panthers just in time for a last gasp assault on a top four finish to the NRL season.

Panthers coach John Lang has named a near full strength line-up missing just suspended forward Ben Ross for the must-win final regular season clash against an undermanned Brisbane at Penrith Stadium on Friday night.

The Panthers are vying for fourth with St George Illawarra which has the bye and Melbourne which takes on Manly at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.

Victory will seal fourth spot - and a home final - while defeat could plummet the defending NRL champions to as low as sixth before the cut throat finals.

The match's crucial nature has forced Lang to name Ryan Girdler (ankle), Amos Roberts (groin) and Frank Pritchard (shoulder/ankle) while Tony Puletua (ankle) has also been added despite uncertainty surrounding the Kiwi international backrower.

But Puletua, who aggravated his ankle injury in last week's win over Parramatta, sounded upbeat at training.

"It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. It's pulled up pretty good," the towering backrower said.

Girdler was just glad to be playing again after missing the last six rounds of his farewell season.

"It's been a bit of a wait but it's a big game on Friday night with the finals coming up, it's just good to be back playing footy again," said Girdler who retires at the end of the season.

Brisbane - guaranteed third place - will be vulnerable with Darren Lockyer (ribs), Tonie Carroll (shoulder), Shane Webcke (calf), Craig Frawley (hamstring) and Scott Minto (neck) not named.

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