Former Kiwi prop Sam McKendry has had a third straight NRL season at Penrith ruined by a knee injury, after scans revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

McKendry injured his right knee in the Panthers' 18-14 win over South Sydney on Saturday, and while he played on for 12 minutes after he went down, scans have since revealed a tear.

It comes after he missed the second half of the 2016 season after he tore his right ACL for the first time, before re-injuring the same knee at the start of last year and sitting out the whole of 2017.

The latest setback on the same knee is likely to see 28-year-old miss at least the most part of 2018.

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"It's unbelievably sad news for Sam and his family. He has worked so hard on overcoming this injury before," Panthers supremo Phil Gould said.

"It's a huge blow for our club as well. Sam really looked like he was getting back to his best.

"As always we will ensure Sam gets the best of medical advice and care. But sometimes this game just isn't fair."

Penrith are unsure what course of action will be taken with McKendry's recovery, and aren't ruling out the prospect of him playing again in 2018.

Regardless, it means Moses Leota is likely to come back onto the unbeaten Panthers' bench in place of McKendry, after he was dropped to make way for the returning Dean Whare as part of a re-shuffle involving Tyrone Peachey last week.

Another fringe forward, Tim Browne, remains in intensive care in Nepean Hospital after undergoing emergency for a ruptured bowel after a freak accident on Saturday.

Browne, who has previously suffered a fractured skull, was hurt in an innocuous tackle in reserve grade.

He fell to the ground seconds after playing the ball before being rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

- AAP