Panthers coach confident Lewis will play - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Panthers coach confident Lewis will play

By Caris Bizzaca 08/09/2010 05:55:04 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matt Elliott has played down fears that Luke Lewis will not play in Saturday's NRL qualifying final against Canberra, despite the newly crowned Dally M Lock of the Year failing to train on Wednesday.

Elliott says the Panthers are just being overcautious with stand-in skipper Lewis, whose calf injury stopped him from playing in last Saturday's big win over Cronulla.

"We're pretty confident about Luke Lewis," Elliott said.

"It's just that we don't want to aggravate anything at this stage of the season when we don't need to."

Star halfback Luke Walsh was back in training on Wednesday after time off with an ankle injury, going a long way to erasing doubt over his availability against the Raiders.

But Elliott dismissed rumours of a surprise return by Lachlan Coote, who has been out for several weeks with a groin injury.

"We're not playing ducks and drakes here," Elliott said.

"He wasn't named because he wasn't available (and) the guy we have got playing fullback (Michael Gordon) at the moment is doing a fair job I reckon."

Elliott admitted the Raiders will enter the clash in great form on the back of a five-game winning streak that includes the scalps of the Panthers and minor premiers St George Illawarra.

"(They) have come in with a great deal of confidence, so it's going to be a massive challenge for us," Elliott said.

"What we can do is influence our own form and find ways to play a little better than we have done."

Panthers centre Michael Jennings says Elliott has been relaxed, but there's a lot of excitement building in the team.

Saturday night will be Penrith's first finals appearance in six years, ending the longest current drought of any team in the competition.

"There's a good feeling at the club and everyone's excited just to be a part of finals footy," Jennings told reporters on Wednesday.

"Who knows when the next one will come."

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