NRL: Penrith's Austin ruled out for six weeks

Coach Ivan Cleary says 'these things happen'. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Coach Ivan Cleary says 'these things happen'. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Penrith's halves crisis deepened yesterday with young five-eighth Blake Austin ruled out for six weeks with a foot injury.

Austin suffered a foot sprain while playing for NSW Cup side Windsor Wolves and now joins first-choice No 6 Lachlan Coote on the sidelines.

It continues a miserable run for the Panthers halves combinations, which have been shaken up all year.

Coote is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in round two, while poor form led to halfback Luke Walsh being dropped to reserve grade.

Prop Sika Manu also failed to finish training yesterday, leaving early with a cork to his shin but coach Ivan Cleary said he was in no doubt for Monday's clash with Parramatta.

The same cannot be said for outside backs Wes Naiqama (knee) and Josh Mansour (ankle) who aren't expected to return until the Panthers' round 13 fixture against Wests Tigers.

"Mansour, Wes and Blake are all looking at six weeks ... it certainly makes life difficult," said Cleary.

"But these things happen. You've just got to be able to move on.

"One door closes and another one opens.

"When Lachlan went down that was a blow. It opened the door up for backups and new possibilities.

"When you're in that phase as a developing team you're constantly searching for what is going to give you the best option.

"And it's not necessarily going to be the same one for the rest of the season or weeks on end.

"That's where we are."

Walsh and utility Tom Humble will be given the reins against the Eels, and are likely to be given time to form a combination at least until Austin recovers.

"Every week is an opportunity. That's the way you should look at it," Cleary said. "Every time you get an opportunity in first grade, whether you've been there for two weeks or five years, you've got to see that as an opportunity to get better and make that spot yours."

- AAP

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