Penrith's NRL injury crisis has reached breaking point after forward Moses Leota was on Tuesday ruled out for at least eight weeks with a pectoral tear.
The Panthers revealed Leota suffered the injury in the first half of Friday's loss to North Queensland, but played out the match and finished with a courageous 49 metres carried and 28 tackles.
Leota is the third player the Panthers have lost since their defeat to the Cowboys, after veteran forward Trent Merrin (finger) and Jack Hetherington (suspension).
It means 19 of their 30-man squad are now unavailable for Friday's clash against Newcastle, however, youngster Tyrone May is expected to return from his ACL injury this week.
The Leota injury is the latest blow for coach Anthony Griffin, who is tipped to blood his fifth debutant this year in prop Nick Lui-Toso for Friday's clash against Newcastle.
Griffin must name a squad of 21 on Tuesday afternoon.
Lui-Toso was part of Penrith's reserve grade side that won the NSW Intrust Super Premiership last year, which also included fellow rookies Christian Crichton, Kaide Ellis, and Hetherington.
Second-rower Viliame Kikau was also part of the squad, as were NRL-contracted players Jarome Luai and Corey Waddell.
PENRITH'S UNAVAILABLE PLAYERS IN THE NRL
Tyrone May (knee, round 10)
Nathan Cleary (knee, round 11)
Jack Hetherington (suspension, round 11)
Trent Merrin (finger, round 13)
Waqa Blake (ankle, round 14)
Moses Leota (pectoral, round 17)
Josh Mansour (cheekbone, indefinite)
Corey Waddell (pectoral, indefinite)
Dylan Edwards (shoulder, season)
Sam McKendry (knee, season)
Tim Browne (bowel, retired)
Australian Associated Press