Tragically, Penrith Panthers franchise ace sidelined indefinitely, exposing team to face an enormous setback.

After the Panthers revealed that star halfback Nathan Cleary will miss eight weeks due to a Grade 2 hamstring tear, Cooper Cronk thinks the team is being “very, very cautious” with his treatment.

Cleary exited the field during the first half of Penrith’s Friday night victory against the Bulldogs due to a recurrence of his hamstring ailment, which has already prevented him from playing in four games this year.

Not only is it a crushing defeat to the Panthers, but it also eliminates the Blues’ hopes of winning three consecutive State of Origin series.
“State of Origin absent after eight weeks. This is huge, not just for Penrith but also for the Blues, Braith Anasta stated on Sunday Ticket on Fox League.

The Panthers legend and Cronk Greg Alexander thinks Penrith is making mistakes.

Nathan Cleary's 14 magical minutes secure Panthers' place in NRL history | NRL | The Guardian

“I guess it’s because of the occurrence and it’s an injury that he’s battling with at the moment. Having a month off then coming back to play then resting because of the short turnaround but he did train well for the two weeks. There was no issue at training,” Alexander said.

“Obviously with the reoccurance of it and it being as serious as a Grade 2, I guess they’ll be hopeful he comes back before the eight weeks but I think that will be the max. Hopefully it comes good quicker than that.

Cronk added: “I think it’s a very, very cautious approach and rightly so. I don’t think he actually had a Grade 2 tear, because a Grade 2 is what Tom Trbojevic suffered on Thursday night and he limped off.”

“Basically, Nathan bolted off the field. After jogging to position, take off.

“The last thing he should be doing is taking a two-week break, playing Origin when he returns, overloading it, and finally finishing it.”

“I totally agree with the gradual and steady approach, in my opinion. For Penrith, he must arrive at the appropriate time of year.

With Cleary sidelined, Sharks star Nicho Hynes and Eels playmaker Mitch Moses seem to be the front-runners to start for the Blues in Game I’s starting halves duo.

But when it comes to how both parties handle their own injuries, it’s not quite so clear-cut.

Hynes was a late scratching against the Storm on Saturday with a calf issue, although Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon believes the halfback will be right next week.

Moses has been sidelined since fracturing his foot in Round 3. His return has been earmarked for next weekend’s clash against the Storm.

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