Penrith players are confident star forward Viliame Kikau can beat his dangerous throw charge to play in the preliminary final, with fullback Dylan Edwards declaring: “There wasn’t much in it.”
Kikau was charged by the match review committee with a grade-one dangerous throw on Roosters’ prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the eighth minute of the Panthers’ 29-28 victory.
The Fijian international has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge, which threatens to rule him out of the grand final qualifier on Saturday, October 17.
Edwards is hopeful Kikau can avoid suspension to play in the club’s first preliminary final since 2014.
“I’m not sure what to make of the tackle, I obviously don’t think there was too much in it, but hopefully, fingers crossed, it is a good result for him and us,” Edwards said.
“He is a massive part of our side.
“He has played great footy all year, and the gap between his best and his worst performance is very little at the moment.
“He has really worked hard on his consistency and he is working hard off the ball, both in defence and attack.
“He has been awesome for us this year.”
Penrith have approached high-profile lawyer Nick Ghabar to handle Kikau’s defence at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.
Ghabar has a strong record, including in 2018 when he helped Melbourne star Billy Slater escape a grade-one shoulder charge offence to play in the grand final in the final game of his career.
Penrith have nothing to lose by fighting the dangerous throw charge given Kikau would still only miss one game if found guilty.
The 25-year-old could have avoided a suspension had he not had carry-over points from a dangerous contact charge from a tackle on Sharks half Braydon Trindall in round 15.
Panthers forward Zane Tetevano is confident in the club’s depth if Kikau is ruled out of the preliminary final.
“Good luck to him and I’m sure that things will pan out the way we want, but we’ve got good depth,” Tetevano said.
“I’m sure someone like Kurt Capewell could fill that position.
“We are a team, so if things don’t pan out then I’m sure that someone will fill that position.”