SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers looks dejected after a Roosters try during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Penrith superstar Nathan Cleary has opened up on just how chaotic the past pair of days have been in the sunshine state.

The NRL was thrown a late curveball by the Palaszczuk government when it was announced on Saturday that the south-eastern portion of Queensland would enter a snap lockdown. The announcement to shut up shop due to Covid concerns caused the league to postpone all three of the matches that were scheduled to take place yesterday.

Speaking on Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Showthe Panthers' skipper explained just how quickly their day was altered.
"Yesterday was one of the craziest days ever," the representative playmaker said.

"We were sitting around just after breakfast and we found out about Queensland going into a lockdown. We thought it was a good thing to try and halt the spread of COVID up here, but we never really thought the game was going to be off."

The 23-year-old continued by expounding how his side's preparations for their crucial clash with the Melbourne Storm came to a careering halt.

NRL Rd 6 - Panthers v Storm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Cameron Smith of the Storm passes Nathan Cleary of the Panthers after the round six NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm at Campbelltown Stadium on June 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

"Us boys who weren't playing were just in the middle of a warm-up getting ready to train and we just got called in saying pretty much that we've got to amend straight away and we couldn't be training and there was a good chance the game wouldn't be on," Cleary said.

"We rushed back to the team room and had a meeting, we thought we were going to be off to Townsville to play the game, then we were just waiting around and eventually we got told we weren't playing."

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Despite his team being asked to curb their initial plans, the New South Welshman was full of praise for the league and how they handled the rapidly evolving situation.

"I think the NRL did a great job to get the games back on today," Cleary asserted.

"There's a lot of people out there in lockdown at the moment bored at home and they all love their footy, so kudos to the NRL for getting it on today."

Having succumb to a shoulder injury whilst representing his state in Origin II, Cleary has failed to return to the field since.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: (L-R) Brian To'o of the Blues, Jerome Luai of the Blues and Nathan Cleary of the Blues pose after winning game one of the 2021 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on June 09, 2021 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Although the halfback was quizzed about when Panthers fans could expect him back on the park, Cleary was unwilling to supply a conclusive reply.

"Honestly, I don't really have a set return date yet," he said.

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"Rehab is going really well, but there's still a few boxes to tick until I can get back out on the field and feel fully confident. Hopefully it's within the next few weeks."

Irrespective of the fact that he will miss Sunday's Grand Final rematch, the son of a gun remained upbeat about Penrith's chances for the remainder of the season by highlighting the importance of the club's latest import - Tevita Pangai Jr.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Tevita Pangai Junior of the Broncos looks to pass during the round 16 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Brisbane Broncos at Shark Park on July 07, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

"I think it's a really good opportunity. Obviously with Tevita Pangai coming into the squad now as well, there's going to be limited spots especially on that bench and through the middle there," Cleary said.

"There's a few guys coming in today that can really put their hand up to deserve a spot in the final 17. There's still plenty of talent on the team and plenty of belief."

The Cleary-less Panthers will face the Storm in Brisbane at 4:05pm AEST.