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Cleary "ticking a lot of boxes" for injury return

Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai has tipped that he could be joined by Nathan Cleary to face the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night after a positive week at training for the star halfback.

Cleary hasn’t played since dislocating his shoulder playing for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues in Game Two of the Ampol State of Origin series but was named on and extended bench for the Panthers this week.

“Nathan’s looking good, he’s ticking a lot of boxes and he’s obviously in the squad as well," Luai said.

“He’s been in a lot of drills and with him being named in the 21, everyone gets to see how close he is now.

“We’ve got a big session (today) so he’ll obviously take part in that and if he ticks the right boxes I’m sure he will play this week.”

Cleary has been instrumental for Penrith in 2021, steering the side to 12 straight victories to start the season, but the Panthers have not been at their best since the halfback’s shoulder injury.

The club elected to postpone surgery for Cleary in the hope that he could still return and play a part in the Panthers premiership campaign.

With only five more rounds until the NRL’s finals series, Luai emphasised the importance of Cleary and the influence he has on the team’s success.

“He’s a massive boost for us (the Panthers),” Luai added.

“Anyone who watches us knows that Nathan’s a big piece of our puzzle.

“In the last couple of games that we’ve played without him, we have missed him a lot.”