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PANTHERS:  1. Matt MOYLAN, 2. Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK, 3. Dean WHARE, 4. Jamal IDRIS, 5. Kevin NAIQAMA, 6. Jamie SOWARD, 7. Peter WALLACW (c ), 8. Nigel PLUM, 9. James SEGEYARO, 10. Brent KITE, 11. Bryce CARTWRIGHT, 12. Isaah YEO, 13. Elijah TAYLOR

INTERCHANGE: 14. Lewis BROWN, 15. Jeremy LATIMORE, 16. Adam DOCKER, 17. Sam MCKENDRY, 23. Sika MANU

SHARKS: 1. Michael GORDAN, 2. Sosaia FEKI, 3. Jonathan WRIGHT, 4. Ricky LEUTELE, 5. Jacob GAGAN, 6. Fa’amanu BROWN, 7. Jeff ROBSON, 8. Andrew FIFITA, 9. Michael LICHAA, 10. Sam TAGATAESE, 11. Luke LEWIS, 12. Wade GRAHAM (c ), 13. Anthony TUPOU

INTERCHANGE: 14. Pat POLITONI, 15. Chris HEIGHINGTON, 16. Tinirau ARONA, 17. Tim ROBINSON, 18. Tupou SOPOAGA, 19. Matt PRIOR

Excitement is building in Bathurst ahead of Saturday’s clash between the Panthers and the Sharks at Carrington Park, in what will be the first of five NRL matches played in the state’s central west over the next five years.

Ivan Cleary’s boys got straight back into training this week after our loss to the Roosters, and we arrived in Bathurst yesterday to meet some of the local kids at a junior league clinic, before being officially welcomed to town by the Mayor at a Civic Reception last night.

Today, players have been visiting schools, the local hospital and an Indigenous Community centre ahead of our final training session tomorrow.

We’re looking to field a strong team against Cronulla, with Captain Peter Wallace returning earlier than expected from injury to line up alongside Jamie Soward in the halves. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will replace Josh Mansour on the wing and Kevin Naiqama retains his spot on the other side of the field for Dave Simmons, who will also return this week through NSW Cup.

Ivan has decided on a new look second row this week, bringing youngsters Bryce Cartwright and Isaah Yeo into his starting line-up, along with Nigel Plum who has been promoted from the bench.

The Panthers remain in second position on the ladder but will be very wary of the Sharks, who, despite sitting back in 16th, have defeated both the Roosters and the Broncos in the past month and are also beginning to return to full strength following a number of injuries earlier in the season. The Sharks also have a number of ex- Panthers including Michael Gordon, Luke Lewis and Wade Graham who will no doubt lift for the occasion.

Last time these two teams played was Round 8, when the Panthers were defeated 24-20 following a late try to Jeff Robson, and our boys will be out to avenge that loss this week.

Key Matchups

Matt Moylan/ Michael Gordon: Two of the in-form fullbacks in the competition at the moment; these two are both quick and crafty, and their footwork is sure to excite the local crowd.

Andrew Fifita/Brent Kite: After having a long layoff with injury, representative front rower Fifita is returning to fitness and form. Watching his flamboyance and flare up against the experience and discipline of Brent Kite will definitely keep people entertained.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.