Caleb Aekins of the Panthers in action during the NRL Nines 2020 tournament at HBF Park in Perth, Saturday, February 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Caleb Aekins of the Panthers in action during the NRL Nines 2020 tournament at HBF Park in Perth, Saturday, February 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Panthers’ rookies in three-way fullback fight

It will be a three-way battle of the kids to grab the vacant Penrith fullback position.

The Daily Telegraph has been told three rising stars are vying to replace injured Dylan Edwards for the Panthers' round one match against Sydney Roosters on March 14.

Edwards sustained syndesmosis in his right ankle after a training mishap on Tuesday. He won't train for eight weeks and will miss the opening five to six rounds. He underwent surgery on Thursday.

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Caleb Aekins in action during the NRL Nines. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
Caleb Aekins in action during the NRL Nines. Photo: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

 

Caleb Aekins, Charlie Staines and Daine Laurie are the candidates to replace Edwards.

Aekins, the early favourite, has played just four NRL games and debuted against Cronulla in 2018. Staines and Laurie have yet to crack first grade.

All three candidates are aged 22 or under.

 

Charlie Staines has been tipped for a big future. Photo: Penrith Panthers
Charlie Staines has been tipped for a big future. Photo: Penrith Panthers

 

Staines was named Penrith's Jersey Flegg player of the year last season and is under contract until the end of 2021.

Laurie, 21, who signed a two-year deal with the club last year, played some Canterbury Cup last season.

Aekins and Laurie, who is currently on an NRL development contract, are in Ivan Cleary's squad to face Wests Tigers on Saturday.

Daine Laurie has been training with the first grade squad for a while.
Daine Laurie has been training with the first grade squad for a while.

 

 

At the time of Laurie's signing, Penrith recruitment manager Jim Jones said: "Daine is blessed with natural ability, reads the game well and has a knack of finding the try line.

"We're confident the opportunity to train with the full-time squad and play higher level rugby league will help him reach his full potential."

Edwards was dropped for the start of last year but fought back to regain his spot later in the season.


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