Nathan Cleary has been ruled out for up to ten weeks with a knee injury that occurred in the early stages of the Panthers loss to the Bulldogs Friday night. With a few viable options coach Anthony Griffin has elected to give Tyrone Peachey the start at five-eighth, one of the many positions he’s played.
Peachey has played hooker, lock, back-row, five-eighth and centre throughout his short career and has most recently found himself acting as the Panthers utility off the bench. A player with Peachey’s talent deserves to have more than 15 minutes a game and now is his opportunity to further prove it.
Peachey is a strong runner of the ball, but with him in the halves the Panthers fans will get to see more of what James Maloney can provide, taking over a lot of the responsibilities that Nathan Cleary has had so far this season. His kicking game and direction will be vital to the team’s success.
The promotion for Peachey has also opened the door for young half Jarome Luai to make to make an impact off the bench. Luai was apart of the Samoa team that took part in last years world cup where he showcased some of his speed and versatility.
Griffin has shown a lot of confidence in the 21-year-old, choosing to give him a taste of first-grade rather than going with the more experienced Sione Katoa or highly touted hooker Wayde Egan. Having Katoa and Egan waiting in reserves, as well as Tyrone May nearing a return from injury, means Luai will need to impress against a Cowboys team that has lost two on the trot.
With Tyrone Peachey headed to the Gold Coast Titans next season, these next couple of months may prove to be important for these youngsters, perhaps auditioning to take over the role of bench utility for seasons to come. But for now, having lost one of the best halves in the game for an extended amount of time, Panthers fans must be resting easy with the depth they have to overcome it.