Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has left the door open on who his star halfback and son Nathan will partner in the halves when he returns from his suspension next week.
Nathan is set to slot straight back into his No.7 jersey to face Parramatta after his two-game suspension for breaking social distancing protocols ends this week.
And he’ll return to a side currently at the top of the NRL ladder after the Panthers kept their unbeaten record intact with a 26-0 shutout of the Warriors on Friday.
Just who plays five-eighth remains a mystery after rookie Matt Burton shone with two tries and a try assist in arguably their best performance of the season.
His effort came just five days after the disappointment of missing five field goals in the clutch that resulted in a draw with Newcastle.
Jarome Luai, who started the season alongside Nathan, was also strong against the Warriors, but isn’t guaranteed of staying there against the Eels.
Fullback Dylan Edwards and forward Liam Martin are also expected to come back from injury, but it’s Burton’s two-week cameo that has left Ivan with a headache.
Asked about his selection issues in the halves, Ivan said: “Yeah, we’ve got a few guys coming back next week, and a few guys playing well, so that’s good.
“We’ll look at it on Monday and work out what to do.”
Ivan revealed Burton played more of a natural five-eighth role against the Warriors, which was in contrast to being the chief playmaker the previous week.
That could bode well when Cleary, the NSW State of Origin halfback, returns.
“We swapped their roles, Jarome’s and Burto’s role over, tonight, which is more what Burto’s been used to doing,” Ivan said.
“Romey played the role that Nathan played, which I thought he did really well, which allowed Burto to kick and run and not have to think too much.”
Should other results go their way, Penrith could finish the round on top of the ladder for the first time since Ivan’s controversial return to the club last year.
However, he said his team is far from the finished product.
“We are a work in progress, which last week showed. (It’s) nice to be undefeated obviously. It’s important get points on the board,” he said.
“But we’re just trying to set the foundation for what the rest of the season looks like. There was a lot of change last year, cultural change, roster changes.
“So we’re just chipping away at it, trying to become what we want to be. There’s a long way to go. But we made some progress tonight.”