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NRL: Cleary has faith in new boy

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says they have enough quality to cope without son Nathan in the round one clash against Manly on Thursday.

The Panthers are priced at 9/2 to back up last year's premiership by winning the 2022 NRL grand final and start their defence against the Sea Eagles.

Cleary to miss start

Star halfback Nathan Cleary will miss the opening weeks of the new season as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery and Sean O'Sullivan is set to fill his boots.

The former Warriors star will play alongside Jarome Luai in the halves and boss Ivan Cleary has no concerns about that partnership.

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"He has to (step up)," Ivan said of Luai. "We've got Sean and Kurt Falls in our squad who have been training to take over from Nathan when required.

"That will allow Jarome to play his natural game which we feel is important for our team. We don't expect Sean to be anyone else.

"He's been one of our best trainers since he got here and he's had a lot of reps in that spot and I'm confident he can deliver what he needs to."

Nathan not ready

Nathan Cleary is making good progress but the start of the season comes a touch too soon and the Panthers are taking no risks ahead of a long, hard campaign.

"He wasn't ready," Ivan added. "It's potentially a conservative approach but he finished last season clearly playing under duress so we thought it was important that this year he started at 100 per cent."

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