Injuries won't stop Panthers: Puletua - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injuries won't stop Panthers: Puletua

By Ed Jackson 19/07/2009 12:06:48 PM Comments (0)

Penrith prop Frank Puletua says those writing off the Panthers' NRL finals hopes after several key injuries to the squad haven't given the team enough respect.

The Panthers have lost inspirational skipper Petero Civoniceva for the rest of the season with a toe injury, while NSW utility Luke Lewis, Kiwi international Frank Pritchard and young gun Lachlan Coote are also sidelined.

Despite those absentees, the Panthers are still in the top eight, a position cemented by Saturday's 27-14 win over Canberra at CUA Stadium.

Puletua, who scored just the third try of his 160-game NRL career against the Raiders, said the focus should be put on the quality of those players still out on the park for the Panthers such as NSW Origin duo Trent Waterhouse and Michael Jennings.

"We've still got experienced guys here that can compose the team and when things aren't going our way we've still got myself and `House', (a) few other guys that have played a lot of first grade," Puletua told AAP.

"We don't focus too much on the players that we've lost because I think the calibre of player that we've got to finish the season off, until those guys come back, we've still got a really strong playing squad.

"One thing it shows is that the squad is a really close squad, and the other thing it shows is probably the benefit that Petero and Lewie have had on the team before they got injured.

"They're great leaders in the team and what they've shown us through the majority of this season has already rubbed off on the guys."

Doubts over Penrith's ability to stay in the eight had risen after a thrashing by South Sydney in round 18, and Puletua said bouncing back with a win had been important to the team.

He said the win was particularly pleasing given 12th-placed Canberra were equally keen to close in on the finals-hunting Panthers.

"Good indicator for what sort of skill this side's got, because it was an important game for them, just as is important as it was for us," he said.

"To come out and win a tough game like that is really good for us. A big confidence booster for us."

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