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Penrith halves brace for Roosters NRL test

NZN 16/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Penrith halves Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin will face a stern test of their NRL credentials when they take on the Sydney Roosters, says coach Anthony Griffin.

The young Panthers duo enter Saturday's clash giving up a combined 257 games of experience, including two premierships, against Roosters pair Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary.

But watching them helping Penrith bounce back from a round-one humiliation with a big win over the Wests Tigers, Griffin said the round-three clash presents another challenge.

"It'll be a really good test for them," he said after Friday's captain's run.

"They started to show glimpses in the second half last week of starting to form an understanding of each other and the way we want to play.

"It's been hard for Te Maire obviously because he didn't get to play with Nathan last year, or didn't get to play in our team when we started to really hit some form.

"But I think the second half last week gave him a lot of confidence. He had a couple of nice touches and hopefully he's on his game tomorrow night."

Griffin lavished praise on the Roosters halves for their undefeated start to the year, pointing out how different a side they look with Pearce on the paddock.

The Roosters have won five of their past seven games dating back to last year with Pearce on deck.

"Since he came back at the back end of last year, I thought he's been terrific. He's done everything in the game, he's won premierships, State of Origin... he's a great player," Griffin said.

"And Keary coming over from Souths, he's an elite half.

"The two of them together, seeing them beat the Titans away in the first game and then combine well last week early when they were under a bit of pressure.

"They're obviously in great form for them and they're going to be a handful for us."

Despite his team being touted as premiership favourites in the pre-season alongside Melbourne, the second-year Panthers coach predicts there will be times when his halves disappoint.

He said the only way they improve is by gaining experience.

"So they're going to, at times, get it right. And other times they're going to not get it quite right. That'll be frustrating," he said.

"But the only way for them to do that is get out in games like tomorrow night and do their thing."

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