Teams: Star enforcer's premiership tilt finished

3 weeks ago 9
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The fairytale premiership dream of gun mid-season Panthers recruit Tevita Pangai Junior is officially dashed, after the former Bronco was left out of his new club's squad of 21 for the NRL grand final due to injury.

The barnstorming forward, who had picked up a short-term deal with the Panthers en route to joining the Bulldogs from season 2022, suffered a medial ligament injury in Penrith's 10-6 preliminary final win over Melbourne on Saturday night.

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Pangai Junior was unwanted by Brisbane and didn't play for the club after Round 15.

But instead of being made to watch from the sideline until he started at the Bulldogs in November, the Panthers scooped up Pangai Junior on a $120,000 gamble, believing his grunt and spark could give them a boost in their fight for the title.

Pangai Junior played six games for the Panthers, with his 100th NRL appearance coming in Round 25 against the Eels.

Star mid-season Panthers recruit Tevita Pangai Junior. (Getty)

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs | Saturday, October 3, 7:30pm AEST | Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Panthers 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Stephen Crichton 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Matt Burton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Liam Martin 18. Brent Naden 19. Mitch Kenny 20. J'maine Hopgood 21. Charlie Staines

Pangai Junior has been replaced in Penrith's starting side by key front-rower Moses Leota, who was a late omission for the Panthers' preliminary final after suffering a calf injury.

Star prop James Fisher-Harris has also been battling a knee injury, but he has been named to start in the grand final.

Front-rower Spencer Leniu was drafted onto Penrith's bench to replace Leota and has retained his place, giving him a shot at premiership glory after he missed the 2020 decider.

And brilliant winger Brian To'o has been named in the Panthers' starting side despite this week being spotted in a moon boot and a wheelchair.

Brian To'o celebrates scoring a try during the Panthers' preliminary final win over the Storm. (NRL Imagery)

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Rabbitohs 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Mark Nicholls 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jaydn Su'A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Jacob Host 16. Thomas Burgess 17. Jai Arrow 18. Taane Milne 19. Patrick Mago 20. Braidon Burns 21. Jed Cartwright

Rabbitohs skipper Adam Reynolds testing his groin ahead of the NRL grand final. (NRL Imagery)

South Sydney have named the same 17 for a third-straight finals clash.

Captain and veteran halfback Adam Reynolds is fighting a groin injury during the leader-up to the decider, but the Broncos-bound playmaker is confident he can get through the week and the game.

It remains to be seen if Reynolds or rookie fullback Blake Taaffe will take on goal-kicking duties in the grand final.

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