James Maloney's untimely NRL suspension has not only further dented Penrith's finals hopes but also potentially scuppered the playmaker's personal quest for rugby league history.
Rubbed out of ninth-placed Penrith's pivotal encounter against seventh-placed Cronulla on Friday night after being found guilty of tripping Canterbury utility Jeremy Marshall-King, Maloney's enforced layoff has left the Panthers facing a halves crisis.
Beleaguered coach Ivan Cleary is likely to start Sione Katoa against the Sharks after naming the fifth-string five-eighth option on the bench on Tuesday, or roll the dice with untried NSW under-20s hooker Matt Burton to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves.
Jarome Luai (eye injury), Wayde Egan (shoulder) and Tyrone May (stood down) are all unavailable as the Panthers to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Suddenly, after helping guide the Panthers to a club-record-equalling seven straight wins, successive losses to Canberra and the lowly Bulldogs have left France-bound Maloney facing rare finals extinction.
It was only a fortnight ago, with the Panthers flying, that the NSW State of Origin-winning hero was dreaming of becoming the first player in more than a century of ARL and NRL to feature in grand finals with four different clubs.
A title winner with Cronulla in 2016 and Sydney Roosters in 2013, Maloney also piloted the under-performing Warriors to the 2011 grand final.
According to rugby league statistician David Middleton, only seven players have appeared in grand finals for three different clubs - Maloney, the great Glenn Lazarus, who won premierships with all three, Kevin Campion, Joe Galuvao, Krisnan Inu, Anthony Mundine and Phil Sigsworth.
But no one has ever reached the big dance with four clubs.
"A little bit disappointed with the outcome," Maloney said after failing to convince Tuesday night's judiciary panel of Mal Cochrane, Dallas Johnson and Tony Puletua that he was merely intending to toe a loose ball through before taking out Marshall-King.
"Obviously (it was) not what we were hoping but that's the process and you respect the process ... and we move on."
Equal on competition points with Cronulla but with an inferior points differential, Penrith could slip to as low as 11th on the ladder with a loss to the Sharks with just four rounds remaining before the finals.
PLAYERS TO HAVE APPEARED IN ARL/NRL GRAND FINALS WITH THREE DIFFERENT CLUBS
Kevin Campion: St George 1996 (lost); Brisbane 1998 (won), 2000 (won); Warriors 2002 (lost)
Joe Galuvao: Penrith 2003 (won); Parramatta 2009 (lost); Manly 2011 (won)
Krisnan Inu: Parrramatta 2009 (lost); Warriors 2011 (lost); Canterbury 2012 (lost)
Glenn Lazarus: Canberra 1989 (won), 1990 (won), 1991 (lost); Brisbane 1992 (won), 1993 (won); Melbourne 1999 (won)
*James Maloney: Warriors 2011 (lost); Sydney Roosters 2013 (won); Cronulla 2016 (won)
Anthony Mundine: St George 1996 (lost); Brisbane 1997 (won); St George Illawarra 1999 (lost)
Phil Sigsworth: Newtown 1981 (lost); Manly 1983 (lost); Canterbury 1986 (lost)
Source:David Middleton, League Information Services
*denotes active player
Australian Associated Press
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