He might be leaving the Penrith Panthers at the end of the season, but Apisai Koroisau already knows who is best suited to replace him in the dummy-half role at the foot of the mountains.

The two-time premiership winner will join the Wests Tigers next year, but he’s already appointed Panthers junior and Round 25 club captain Mitch Kenny as the man to take his place at hooker.

“I definitely think Mitch is the guy,” Koroisau told the Daily Telegraph.

“He’s been working super hard and he’s one of those people you need in the team because he never lets you down.”

Koroisau is one of 13 Panthers first-team players who will miss the trip to Townsville as Ivan Cleary looks to rest the bulk of his squad ahead of what promises to be a gruelling finals campaign.

Cleary has handed out NRL debuts to centre Tom Jenkins, prop Liam Henry and utility Jack Cole, while fellow prop Eddie Blacker will make his club debut.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers (R) celebrates with Mitchell Kenny (L) after scoring a try during the round 18 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Panthers Stadium on July 19, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

While Kenny has reaped the rewards for his consistent form, Koroisau also mentioned Soni Luke – named in the No.14 – as one to watch moving into 2023, claiming the 26-year-old has even taught him some new tricks.

Luke came through the Panthers system, spending time in the since-disbanded NYC playing along side a number of current first-team stars.

“He’s just one of those guys who is awesome to be around and I’ve actually learnt so much from him with the way he moves and gets out of dummy-half,” Koroisau said.

A St Marys junior, Luke’s journey has been a challenging one, with multiple shoulder reconstructions and other injury struggles before getting his shot at the first team this year thanks to some stellar form in the NSW Cup. He also made his debut for Tonga.

“I’d love to play more first grade, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Luke told the Telegraph.

“I’m with (Koroisau) every session. I watch everything he does and ask heaps of questions.

“He’s unreal and has been so good for me.

“I’ve played with that whole spine growing up, so nothing feels uncomfortable when I’m with them.”