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Mansour needs time back in NRL: Griffin

NZN 3/06/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Returning Penrith star Josh Mansour will need time to find the kind of NRL form that had elevated him to representative honours last year, says coach Anthony Griffin.

Mansour will make his first appearance of the season in Sunday's clash with Canterbury, seven months after tearing his ACL playing for Australia in the Four Nations.

His comeback is a major boost for a Panthers side, mired in a mid-table scrap after 12 rounds, but Griffin has warned against expecting Mansour's best against the Bulldogs.

"It's an important game for him. It's going to take a period for him to get his match fitness, but starts tomorrow which is good," Griffin said on Saturday.

"We'll find out tomorrow for sure, but everything he has done up until now has been good. Medical and rehab staff have been very happy."

Mansour's inclusion ironically comes with incumbent Blues winger Brett Morris ruled out by the Bulldogs after picking up a knee injury on Wednesday night against Queensland.

Injuries to key men Bryce Cartwright and Peter Wallace mean the Panthers have finally moved skipper Matt Moylan to five-eighth, while Mitch Rein will make his club debut at hooker.

Promising youngster Dylan Edwards gets the nod at fullback and consistent second-rower Isaah Yeo also returns from injury.

Griffin said Moylan's move was a natural choice.

"The second half last week against Newcastle when we lost Bryce, we threw him up there to play with Nathan and he played well," he said.

"He's played an Origin there. It's just the way our team has evolved through injury. We know he can play there. It's the best thing for the team.

"We were fortunate to have someone like Edwards playing fullback in NSW Cup. Every time he has been pulled up into the NRL, he has done the job."

The 12th-placed Panthers meet a Bulldogs side who have dropped three in a row to fall to 10th spot, and also have Blues pair Josh Jackson and David Klemmer backing up.

Marcelo Montoya starts for Morris on the left edge.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Canterbury have scored a league-low 58 points in total during first halves this season

- The Panthers have been outscored a combined 70-8 in the opening 20 minutes of their past seven matches

- The Panthers rank first in the NRL for tackles inside the opposition 20, with 36 tackles per game

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