Ivan Cleary is confident Penrith can overcome the loss of their on-field general while the Storm have also lost arguably their best attacking player for Thursday's grand final rematch.
The Panthers on Wednesday ruled out co-captain Nathan Cleary for Thursday night's clash at BlueBet Stadium while Melbourne have also taken a precautionary approach with star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen over his neck complaint.
Cleary confirmed Matt Burton would come into the 17 for his son following last week's head knock while utility Nicho Hynes slots in at fullback for the Storm and Cooper Johns joins the bench.
The Panthers coach wouldn't be drawn on whether Burton would start on the right edge or go on his preferred left side.
Burton made his NRL debut against the Knights last season on the left with Jarome Luai switching to the right.
However, Luai's combination with Stephen Crichton and Viliame Kikau has turned into arguably one of the game's most potent edges since then, leaving Burton likely to settle on the right.
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Cleary also has Tyrone May at his disposal with the utility starting in last year's grand final at right centre.
"He could go anywhere, not sure yet," Cleary said of Burton on Wednesday.
"We've got a squad we like to think we can cover most people and don't ever want to feel like we can't win a game because one person is out.
"It's big a test for all of our players, but we have full faith in Matt.
"It's no wonder that other clubs are chasing him but he's a Panther at the moment and I'm looking forward to how he steps up tomorrow night but he's just got to do his job like everyone else.
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"It's a great challenge for all our boys."
Regardless of who slots in on the right edge, they'll face one of the toughest defensive challenges in the Telstra Premiership in the form of Cameron Munster and Kenny Bromwich.
Cleary backed Burton, who has been in strong form for the Panthers' Knock-On Effect Cup side, after a pre-season where his name has been in the headlines after signing with Canterbury for 2022.
"His performances at Cup level have been really good," Cleary said.
"I mentioned last week that probably the last month when there were a few mumblings going around I had a chat to Matt, not that he was bad before that, but I felt like he was a little bit distracted and he hasn't shown one sign that he's not happy here."
Cleary said last year's grand final result was of minimal focus this week despite the external build-up surrounding the rematch.
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A combined total of 12 players that took the field from both sides in last year's decider won't feature on Thursday night.
"I don't think so, because unless we go and take their rings off them, there's not much we can do about that," Cleary said of any added personal motivation.
"It'll probably be a little bit motivating for the boys, it's just natural. It's more that the Storm are and have been for more than 15 years a benchmark team.
"You always want to play well against the best sides and any chance you get I think you look forward to."
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The Storm, who arrived in Sydney on Wednesday, will be without Papenhuyzen, who was on light duties throughout the week.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy labelled the Panthers as "the form team of the competition" after two rounds with their defensive displays in recent weeks impressing the opposition.
A narrow loss to the Eels last week, their first without retired hooker Cameron Smith, is new territory for the premiers.
"They had a great run last year I think they won 17 games straight there up to the grand final and they haven't conceded a point yet to start this season off so they're obviously in really good form," Bellamy said of the Panthers.
"They've controlled the ball really well which obviously helps, got more energy to defend."
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