NSW doctor Nathan Gibbs said Nathan Cleary risks re-opening his deep facial wound if he opts to back up for the Panthers only 48 hours after his State of Origin heroics after being cleared of any facial fractures.
Cleary’s teammate Tom Trbojevic admitted he had no idea he caused his vice-captain’s sickening head wound, which prompted referee Gerard Sutton to order the halfback to the blood bin in NSW’s record-breaking game one win.
Gibbs had to inject a painkiller into Cleary’s face to help stem the bleeding before inserting “quite a few” stitches to sew up the cut.
Cleary’s table-topping Panthers, who had seven Origin representatives take the field in NSW’s 50-6 trouncing of Queensland in Townsville, are due to play the Sharks at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Friday night.
Coach Ivan Cleary named only Api Koroisau, who was an unused 18th man for NSW, in his 17 for the match. The rest of his stars were part of an extended reserves and a decision will be made on their availability on Thursday.
“The risk is it’s a decent wound and it hasn’t healed so it’s a chance of re-opening,” Gibbs said on Nathan Cleary playing again so soon after Origin. “It’s not my call though, that will be up to Penrith.
“There were no fractures, it was just a deep gash. Obviously because it was quite big and deep it was bleeding a lot. We tried to control it in the first half, but the nature of contact sport when you keep getting hit, it makes it bleed more.
“With five to go [in the first half] we had to waste an interchange bringing him off, but at half-time we had plenty of time to stitch him up to put it back together and we got him through the second half. He played so well in that second half.”