NRL Rd 8 - Tigers v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers thanks the crowd during the round eight NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium on July 04, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers and NSW halfback Nathan Cleary has entered an early guilty plea for his dangerous throw on Parramatta’s Dylan Brown in the first half of the Eels’ big win over Penrith on Friday.

The club confirmed that Cleary would not contest the charge for the tackle that ultimately saw him sent from the field.

He will miss the five remaining weeks of the regular season in what is seen as a blow to Penrith’s minor premiership hopes – despite the fact they currently sit eight points clear of the North Queensland Cowboys, who play later today.

Following a knee injury to Jarome Luai during last week’s win over the Sharks, the Panthers are facing a long stint without either of their starting halves at a crucial time in the season.

While Sean O’Sullivan has had plenty of experience in the club’s halves this year, having spent time covering for Cleary through injury and Origin, early reports indicate the club won’t hand the other halves role to Kurt Falls – who had covered the position during Origin – instead opting for bench utility Jaeman Salmon.

Salmon has played 20 games of NRL since joining the Panthers at the start of last year.

Both halves are currently on the base-level salary for NRL players but will be expected to keep the team’s strong season on course. Other than Friday’s game, O’Sullivan was yet to taste defeat so far this year for the Panthers.

Following Friday’s events, Cleary took to social media to apologise to fans.

“Massive apologies for tonight,” he said on Instagram.

“Filthy at myself for such a dumb moment that let the boys and fans down.

“I’m not about that, it was terrible technique and I need to do better.