Penrith Panthers flyer Josh Mansour has declared himself a certain starter for this Sunday’s clash with the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Mansour has had a tough year, missing the start of the season with a knee injury, only returning for handful of games before re-injuring the medial ligament in his right knee.
He admitted it has been frustrating watching from the sidelines as the Panthers struggle for consistency.
‘‘I just had to stay as positive as I could be, the moment you drop your head, it’s going to be a long season,’’ he said.
‘‘We have a great rehab team and they get me (back) on deck as fast as they can.’’
After initially being told he was out for 10-12 weeks when he re-injured his knee, Mansour tried to fast track his comeback.
He had been named to return for the local derby with Parramatta four weeks ago, but said his accelerated return did not go to plan.
Mansour said his fitness has been 50/50 for the past few weeks, but is definitely going to be fully fit for the Tigers.
‘‘Without doubt,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m happy to be back, especially out at Leichhardt Oval, it’s always good to play out there against the Tigers.
‘‘We know they’re going to be fired up, so we definitely need to get away with the two points in that game.’’
The Tigers are another team who have struggled to find their feet this season.
A fortnight ago they knocked off the defending premiers South Sydney, before being beaten by the bottom of the table Sea Eagles last week.
‘‘They’re kind of a bit like us, they’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster season,’’ Mansour said.
‘‘They’ve got a very young squad but an outstanding engine room, forward pack.
‘‘They’re definitely dangerous in the middle and if we stop that, I reckon we’ll stop them around the edges, so it’s definitely a big job for our middles this week.’’
Although they are sitting in 11th place on the table, Mansour is confident there is some life left in the Panthers this season.
‘‘There’s still a long way to go and we’re around middle table at the moment so a couple of wins and we’ll be back up there.
‘‘Hopefully we can start this week and get our season back on track.
‘‘The competition is so bloody close, we just want to aim up and do the fundamentals right and hopefully have a big game.’’