Penrith rookie with one senior appearance to start over ex-Hull KR man in World Club Challenge

Aaron Bower
Penrith Panthers, NRL Minor Premiership

Penrith Panthers claim the 2023 Minor Premiership. Photo by Australian Associated Press/Alamy Live News.

Penrith Panthers could throw young half-back Jack Cole in for only his second senior appearance in Saturday evening’s World Club Challenge against Wigan Warriors – with former Hull KR man Brad Schneider now likely to miss out.

That’s according to reports in the Australian media, who are suggesting that Cole may well be given the ominous task of replacing injured half-back Jarome Luai at the DW Stadium on Saturday. Luai is unavailable, leaving Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary with a number of options to partner son and scrum-half Nathan in the halves.

It was expected that Schneider, who helped guide Hull KR to last year’s Challenge Cup final during his short-term stint in Super League with the Robins, would get the nod after returning to the NRL in the off-season. But reports are now stating that Cole will be given the number six jersey in what would represent a significant move by Cleary.

READ NOW: The four best and funniest Super League moments you missed from the opening round

The 20-year-old has played just one senior game in his entire NRL career – and that was all the way back in September 2022. He didn’t feature at all in the competition last year, with Cole making 17 appearances in the New South Wales Cup instead.

But he will now get the biggest opportunity of his young career to date as he is reportedly set to be given the starting shirt alongside Cleary in the halves to face the Super League champions.

Daine Laurie and Schneider are also options for Cleary to consider as he weighs up who will replace Luai, who has already agreed to join Wests Tigers next year. Cole has been tipped as Luai’s long-term successor and he could now get the first real chance to show he can stake a claim in that regard with a starting berth against Wigan.

WEEKEND DEBRIEF: One talking point from every Super League Round One fixture including Castleford optimism, Leeds prop stars and more