Nathan Cleary has hailed the medical people behind his shot at grand-final redemption, praising their positivity for keeping his NRL season alive.
The Penrith co-captain breathed a massive sigh of relief on Sunday after avoiding a charge for his lifting tackle on Melbourne forward Kenny Bromwich, leaving him free to play in next Sunday's grand final against South Sydney.
However concerns remain for the Panthers, with forwards James Fisher-Harris and Tevita Pangai both set for scans on injured knees on Monday.
Late-season recruit Pangai is believed to be the main worry, amid fears medial ligament damage could rule him out of the decider.
At least the Panthers now know they will have their star halfback on deck on grand final night, a prospect that looked in doubt after he injured his shoulder in State of Origin II.
Cleary's availability is crucial to the Panthers. He has won 19 of 20 games at all levels this year while he and Jarome Luai have a 40-3 record together in the halves.
The 23-year-old is adamant that he has got to the point where his battered right shoulder is not front of mind when he takes the field, despite appearing to be carrying it at times.
He saw multiple specialists on return to Sydney after the Origin II win, with scans showing a cartilage tear after a shoulder subluxation.
Ultimately, it was decided that the could roll the dice and play out the season, with surgery inevitable afterwards.
"There was negative chat around that people have missed the series with this and I will need surgery straight away," said Cleary.
"But to the club's credit and the physio staff and medical staff, they were 100 per cent in my corner straight away."
He has been treated untiringly since by club physios Peter Green and Mitch Delahay, who backed the move for Cleary to play on.
"They were super positive and it was what I needed," Cleary said.
"Once I heard that from the physios I just knew I was going to get back and they would get me right and they have done that.
"I have been super grateful to them for getting me back on the field. It has been a work in progress each week just trying to strengthen it.
"They have put so many hours into me, so I am very grateful."
Penrith are certain they remain battle-hardened and not broken after having to do it the hard way to reach the grand final following their week-one loss to South Sydney, missing out on a week off.
Prop Moses Leota remains in a race against the clock to overcome a calf strain, after he was re-injured in their semi-final win over Parramatta and missed the preliminary final win over the Storm.
© AAP 2021