There was some concern that Penrith Panthers stars wouldn’t feature in the World Club Challenge against Super League Champions St Helens.
This comes due to holiday and training regulations which would have seen them ineligible to play in the World Club Challenge due to their Rugby League World Cup commitments.
However, these players – which include Isaah Yeo, Nathan Cleary, Liam Martin, Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o, Spencer Leniu and Izack Tago – will be allowed to play if ready after returning to training early.
“The Panthers had a number of players represent their home nations at the most recent Rugby League World Cup with eight of our squad playing in the final,” Penrith Panthers CEO Matt Cameron told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“As a result, their mandated and well-deserved leave entitlement were pushed back into January. That being said, those players have now forgone part of their leave entitlements and have re-joined the main squad to be eligible for selection on the 18th of February.
“Although they are back at training, the club still has a responsibility to ensure they are match ready in time for the World Club Challenge and will be doing everything possible to get our best team possible on the park.
“It speaks volumes for the culture of this team and the character of the individuals.
“They didn’t have to come back to training, but once again – as they have done throughout their careers – they’ve put the club and the team first.
“The hunger for success is what drives this team and it’s a credit to Ivan (Cleary) and the coaching staff for helping instil that mentality.”
Yesterday, Paul Wellens said he wanted them to play:
“I want them to play. We want to give the game the respect it deserves and play against those players who have helped win those titles.
“I don’t know them personally, but they seem very competitive and will want to play.”