The Penrith Panthers could reportedly be without all of their Australian and Samoan representatives for the World Club Challenge in 2023.
While the Panthers themselves have put a roadblock in front of the game in recent days over money, new reports suggest that the timeline of players being on leave, as well as how many weeks they must train before playing a competitive game, will mean the Panthers will be significantly understrength for the World Club Challenge.
It also could mean that for all of Nathan Cleary, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo, Jarome Luai, Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu, Taylan May and Izack Tago that their first game in 2023 is Round 1, when Penrith open their campaign against the Brisbane Broncos at home.
Under current rules, News Corp report that players are entitled to between seven and eight weeks of leave, and then must train for a minimum period of five weeks before playing games.
That means that players would likely have to cut their leave short to play in the World Club Challenge, although the report suggests that's exactly what they want to do.
“There are some guidelines that the NRL and RLPA put in place about players leave entitlements,” Penrith District Rugby League CEO Matt Cameron said.
“We haven‘t made hard and fast decisions about who will or who won't play.
“But players are entitled to a break. But they are also entitled to come back to training if they feel like they are ready. We'll monitor that over summer.
“This game is a big deal but we won't put anyone at risk. But we'll work with the players and all the coaching staff with the aim of getting the best team out there."
It comes just days after club CEO Brian Fletcher suggested the Panthers still haven't ticked off on the game and are chasing up to $300,000 from the NRL.
“We are waiting on details from Andrew Abdo — we haven't signed off on the game,” Fletcher said.
“Andrew said we would be playing for prizemoney and we are waiting to hear what it is. We have to hear back from him before we make a decision. It's in Andrew's court.
“It will replace our second trial against Parramatta at home. We have to make sure we are replaced financially.”