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Penrith skipper Isaah Yeo has backed teammate Jarome Luai to stake his claim for a NSW State of Origin recall throughout the next fortnight.

Laui will step into the No.7 jumper for Sunday's clash with the Warriors as the Panthers and Blues begin an eight-week stint without Nathan Cleary. 

With injuries hitting a number of NSW's top playmakers, Yeo views the next two weeks as an opportunity for Luai to prove he belongs in the Origin arena.  

"It certainly is, particularly with what's happened there [with injuries]," Yeo said.
"He's been knocked before but he's won a series before, he's had a lot of success in that jersey.

"Sometimes we can try and make scapegoats for things. I think he was one of those last year but he's done a wonderful job, he's won a series before, he's done a really good job for NSW. He'll do his job for sure if given the chance."

Nathan Cleary walks from the field after suffering a hamstring injury last weekend.
Nathan Cleary walks from the field after suffering a hamstring injury last weekend. ©NRL Photos

Cleary is likely to miss the entire State of Origin series after injuring his hamstring in last week's win over the Bulldogs. 

Joining him on the sidelines is Mitchell Moses, who is racing the clock to return from a foot injury suffered in round three.

The Eels playmaker will sit out this weekend's Magic Round clash with the Storm and could have just 80 minutes to prove he's ready for NSW selection. 

Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes is also battling a calf injury, having missed last week's win over the Storm, and is no certainty to play against the Roosters on Saturday night.

Ivan provides the latest on Nathan's injury

That leaves Luai and Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton as the leading healthy contenders, while Chad Townsend and Luke Keary are considered outside chances. 

Luai has made no secret of his desire to return to the Origin arena after he was dropped for Game Three last year. 

While disappointed to see Cleary go down, Yeo has been impressed with the way Luai has stepped up to take control of the team and expects that will flow through to the representative setup. 

"We can feel it around training at the minute," Yeo said. "The way he's communicating and talking, he's being a lot more proactive. 

"He's going to touch the ball a bit more. It's not new, he's done it really well before, particularly for his country Samoa, so he'll do a really wonderful job [as halfback].

"He'll play different to what Nath does, they're different players, so he'll put his own mark and spin on it but still do a great job."

Jarome Luai will take charge of the Panthers attack with Nathan Cleary on the sidelines.
Jarome Luai will take charge of the Panthers attack with Nathan Cleary on the sidelines. ©NRL Photos

Luai will be partnered in the halves on Sunday by youngster Jack Cole, with backup halfback Brad Schneider suffering a leg injury in reserve grade last week. 

The injury occurred when a defender made contact while he was kicking the ball, an area of much discussion in the NRL this year. 

Melbourne skipper Harry Grant successfully fought a Grade One Dangerous Contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night, the panel ruling the contact with Cronulla kicker Daniel Atkinson was dangerous but not careless.

Grant sent to the bin

Yeo acknowledges there has been some uncertainty among players but said defenders are aware it is their responsibility to not put kickers in dangerous positions. 

"You can tell the difference between a really nasty one, if you watch the Schneider one last week, that was bad, then the Harry Grant one, there's a difference between those two," Yeo said. 

"It puts a bit more onus on the defender to make sure they're not making contact but we still want kick pressure. It's what everyone wanted last year and it's why we don't have blockers this year because they wanted more kick pressure. 

"Now off the back of that, they're going 'how can we fix it?' It's a hard one, we're a reactive game sometimes and we probably are at the minute. It's probably common sense and the ownership's on the defender to not put the attacker in a dangerous position. You can tell the difference between the bad ones and the ones like Harry's."

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.