Panthers still wary of wounded Roosters

Penrith hooker Api Koroisau thought the NRL app was broken when he saw that South Sydney had racked up 60 points on the Sydney Roosters last week.

But he quickly dismissed the result knowing that the back-to-back premiers will hit back hard on Friday night.

The Panthers, this year’s minor premiers, will host the Roosters in a qualifying final, just a week after the Tricolours suffered a record loss to the Rabbitohs.

Koroisau was in disbelief to hear that Souths had dominated the champions.

“Like a lot of people, I think my first reaction was shock,” Koroisau said.

“I thought maybe it was a typo on the NRL app – because I just couldn’t imagine that score.”

Koroisau’s surprise soon turned to the reality that the Roosters will respond after being embarrassed.

He knows this means that the Panthers must be at their best to deny a determined Tricolours outfit.

“They are going to bounce back hard,” he said.

“I know what kind of team the Roosters are having played against them in the last few years.

“They never stay down for long and it will be a good match this weekend – I’m sure they will bring their A-game.

“They were already going to be a danger, regardless of that (Souths) game, so not much is going to change, and we are going to prepare like they are in the red-hot form that they usually are in.”

Roosters fullback James Tedesco in shock after South Sydney pile on 60 points. Penrith know the Roosters will respond against them in the first week of the finals. hoto: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

The Roosters will be without co-captain Jake Friend, who has been rested after failing concussion protocols.

Young gun Freddy Lussick has been named to replace Friend at starting hooker.

Lussick only has four NRL games under his belt, but Koroisau won’t be taking his inexperience lightly.

“I know Freddy personally and he is going to come out firing and he won’t let any of those boys down,” he said.

“I don’t think that will be a particular spot that we go at or take advantage of.

“Jake (Friend) is obviously a massive player in their team.

“He has a huge leadership role, but at the same time when you bring in youth you bring in hunger.”

Penrith are on a high following a stellar season to date, but Koroisau knows the job isn’t done yet.

The Panthers are desperate to claim the title and it’s why they didn’t overact when they collected the minor premiership.

“It was a weird feeling,” he said.

“The boys were really excited and proud of getting the minor premiership, but at the same time everyone knows the bigger picture which is this weekend’s game and every other game from here on.

“So, it was pretty tame in the lockeroom after the game and we are not getting ahead of ourselves.

“Not too much emphasis has been put on the finals, which is good and important going into a big game like this.

“I like the vibe that is going on around the joint at the moment.”

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