May Takes Unexpected Call Up With Both Hands
Penrith's charge to the Telstra Premiership finals in recent weeks has been put down to the control of Nathan Cleary in the No.7 jersey, but halves partner Tyrone May has proved a handy sidekick.
With no timeframe on Matt Moylan's return from a hamstring injury, his replacement in May is relishing the opportunity to play second fiddle.
Griffin opted to use Bryce Cartwright at five-eighth earlier in the season but with Moylan's move into the No.6 jersey proving a success on the back of Te Maire Martin's exit to the Cowboys, plans have changed at the foot of the mountains.
While the 21-year-old admits he'll find it tough to keep a spot once the Panthers skipper makes a return, the opportunity to become the side's halves back-up leading into the finals is now an added motivating factor when he drops back to the Intrust Super Premiership.
Moylan's late withdrawal in New Zealand saw May line up for the first time in the NRL alongside former Holden Cup teammates Nathan Cleary, Dylan Edwards and Sione Katoa back in Round 19.
"The game in New Zealand was tough but that Bulldogs game where they were fighting for their season, they just come out with everything," May said.
"I had the idea I may come off the bench and play a utility role at best but couldn't believe it really [when I got told I would start].
"I've had Bodene Thompson and Josh Jackson as the back-rowers running at me. I was cheering Jackson on in Origin the other week and then I have to mark up against him so it's crazy how it works."
It has proved the Panthers' biggest asset in 2017 – blooding rookies who have not only scored a try on debut, but become regular and reliable mainstays in Anthony Griffin's line-up.
May joins the likes of Edwards, Harawira-Naera and Kikau who have all established themselves in the top grade this season.
Griffin has kept a simple approach for the former Junior Kangaroo – who has grown up in the forward pack.
"He wants me to focus on my defence mainly," May said.
"I grew up playing halfback but got too big. The transition to a lock or in the back-row may still happen at the backend of my career but I'll try and play five-eighth for as long as I can."
Whether May will feature again in 2017 is anyone's guess, but for now he's just enjoying the ride, especially with great mate Nathan Cleary, with the pair coming through the junior grades together.
"He's as cool as a cucumber so you don't really get nervous when you look at him and it's the same face that he has," May said.
"We know each other's game and it comes naturally.
"If I play again or go back to NSW Cup I've just got to make sure I keep running the ball."