The Penrith Panthers will reportedly be without young half and centre Jack Cole for the next month.

The youngster, who replaced Jarome Luai in the losing effort in England during the World Club Challenge against the Wigan Warriors, is in the fight to be the leading back-up option for the three-time premiers both in the halves, and at centre this year.

That comes after the departure of Jack Cogger to the Newcastle Knights, with Cole likely in competition to be the back-up (and eventual successor to Jarome Luai when he leaves for the Wests Tigers) with off-season signings Daine Laurie and Brad Schneider.

But Cole's chances of becoming the first preference back-up have taken a hit with The Western Weekender's Peter Lang reporting a calf injury sustained during training will see him sidelined for about a month.

The youngster, who made his NRL debut in Round 25 of the 2022 season when Penrith rested most of their best 17 ahead of the finals, but has failed to add to his single game since.

Instead, Cole spend the 2023 season floating between the centres and halves at NSW Cup level where he scored 8 tries in 17 games to go with 6 tries in 12 games he had scored the year before. He also has a combined 14 try assists across the two seasons at reserve grade level.

Penrith have not confirmed the injury to Cole, however, he has not been named for this weekend's season-opening NSW Cup clash with the Sydney Roosters at St Marys on Saturday. Instead, David Fale will join new recruit Paul Alamoti in the centres, while Daine Laurie and Brad Schneider line up as the halves.

Soni Luke also features in that team after surprisingly being overlooked for the Panthers' NRL side in Round 1 despite Mitch Kenny also being out suspended. Luke Sommerton starts in the nine at NRL level for the three-time premiers as they prepare to tackle the Melbourne Storm.

The NSW Cup clash against the Roosters kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, while the NRL game against the Storm kicks off at 8:05pm on Friday evening.