Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Reports emerged yesterday evening that Brian To’o had been ruled out of Penrith’s huge elimination final against their bitter and local rivals the Parramatta Eels through injury, and this morning Panthers Senior Physio Peter Green has spoken via the club’s weekly injury update to confirm the news.
“Starting out with some big news that Brian To’o has been ruled out of tonight’s game,” said Green.
“Bizza finished last week’s game against Souths with some general ankle pain and irritation and has been fighting all week to get back to 100%.
“After a fitness test yesterday, we made the decision to rest Bizza from the game tonight and give him every chance to perform at his best hopefully in the coming weeks.”
This is a huge blow for the Panthers, as this season To’o has been playing far more than just the role of your typical winger.
UPDATED TEAMLIST ✂️ Injury forces a change in the Panthers side to face Parramatta.
— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) September 17, 2021
In 2021, To’o has led the competition in overall run metres with 4,707 and is second in post-contact metres with 1,747.
He has been strong in other areas too, scoring 14 tries, assisting two, making 118 tackle breaks, 21 line breaks, averaging 247 running metres per game and making 70 tackles for an efficiency rate of 89.7%.
Bulldogs bound Brent Naden will come onto the wing for Penrith tonight in the number 20 jersey.
For the majority of the season, Naden played in reserve grade, but since his return to the NRL in round 16, he has notched up four tries, 20 tackle breaks, four line breaks, averaged 144 running metres per game and made 36 tackles for an efficiency rate of 65.4%.
Naden has a great opportunity to have tries essentially gifted to him in this game if receiving the ball near Parramatta’s try line, as Haze Dunster has tended to drift in field recently, leaving a huge gap for the winger off any given side to stroll over, with Naden’s taller build also helping Penrith to match the strength and athleticism of Blake Ferguson on the other side of the field.
To’o will nevertheless be a huge loss for the Panthers.