Cleary will be without seven of his best stars for Penrith’s clash with Wests Tigers on Friday night at Leichhardt Oval.
New South Wales star Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo have held their places in Brad Fittler’s side for 2021, while Jarome Luai, Brian To’o and Liam Martin are all set to make their representative debuts on June 9 in Townsville.
The absences have forced Cleary into a major shuffle for his Round 13 clash with the Tigers, as Matt Burton and Tyrone May hold down the halves and Jaeman Salmon, J’maine Hopgood, Lindsay Smith and Izack Tago man the interchange.
A stripped seniors side is a major collateral in having a 12-0 side come Origin I, with Cleary telling The Sydney Morning Herald that clubs should be rewarded rather than hampered in developing players into Origin-calibre names.
“I just think bonuses for things you can actually keep a lid on, for example Origin for debutants, should be looked at to be outside the cap,” Cleary said.
“You’re not going to give James Tedesco an Origin bonus, but if it’s his first NRL contract and never played Origin, or something like that, then it makes sense. You should only get the bonus once.
“That’s going to stop potential rorts where you give X amount of dollars in the cap and give a player an Origin bonus even though they’ve played the last three years.
“Bonuses should be something you get rewarded for. Five of our seven players developed in our system and the other two debuted in Origin since playing for us.”
“I don’t want it to sound like a whinge but it causes you some grief. We’re quite happy to pay the money, it’s the implications in the cap that can really hurt you.
“As a club we are quite reluctant to keep doing Origin bonuses because of that. Perhaps there’s a better way of doing it.”
The Panthers will welcome the timely return of fullback Dylan Edwards for this weekend as well.