Ready for some hard hits

THEY'RE looking to cook up a rabbit stew but Lachlan Coote says the Panthers' metre-eaters must first devour plenty of distance and resistance before the team can enjoy their desired delicacy.

Ahead of their round 17 clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Coote said he was "pretty confident" of a victory.

But he added that a win would fall off the menu if the Panthers' forward pack can't out-muscle their opposition's powerful hard hitters.

"We've just got to shut their go-forward down because they're all pretty big dudes," Coote said.

"Obviously they've got plenty of good go-forward and hopefully our forwards can match up."

While the Panthers will receive somewhat of a reprieve with Rabbitohs' sensation Greg Inglis and second rower Dave Taylor set to miss the match due to State of Origin duties, Penrith will also be without lock Luke Lewis, centre Michael Jennings and prop Tim Grant for the same reason.

And then there's absence of injured five-eighth Travis Burns, and injured prop Sam McKendry, while injured halfback Luke Walsh will be given "every chance" by coach Ivan Cleary to prove himself fit before kick-off.

"It's going to be a tough game," Coote said.

"As it showed before, we struggled without our Origin players.

"But I think the guys stepping up into their positions are going to do the role for them."

Recovering from the heartbreak of their golden point loss to the Parramatta Eels on Saturday night, Coote said there was one positive the side would carry into their clash with the Rabbitohs.

"Our attack was good in parts so we're going to take plenty of confidence off that," he said.

"I felt that our communication between our halves and all our outside backs was good so we've just got to work on that this week, get our attack right, and I think we should be fine."

As he also bounces back from being temporarily dropped to the Windsor Wolves two weeks ago, Coote said the demotion had been a significant wake-up call. "It was a bit of a kick and I had to turn my perspective on being a first grade footballer," he said.

"I thought I was doing all the right things but obviously I wasn't doing enough.

"Ivan's a different sort of coach than what we've had in the past.

"It is a bit of a change but I think it's a good change for us."

¦ Kick-off against the Rabbitohs is 3pm.

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