Ahead of his 50th NRL game, Penrith's Mitch Kenny says he is ready to be promoted to starting hooker from next season.
State of Origin hooker Api Koroisau will leave the Panthers next year to join the Wests Tigers, opening the door for Kenny to join the starting side.
The move looms as the most significant change to Penrith's first-choice starting side for next season.
Kenny has previously covered as starting hooker when injuries have ruled Koroisau out and the 24-year-old said he was ready to make the spot his own once and for all.
"I think when the time comes, I definitely will be," he said.
"I try not to think too far ahead.
"That's the bigger picture and I'll look forward to that when the time comes."
Kenny will make his 50th NRL appearance from the bench against the Sydney Roosters on Friday night but said the milestone hadn't distracted him from his preparation this week.
"I haven't thought too much about it," he said.
"I didn't think it was too big of a deal but my family is starting to get pretty excited and I suppose when you do stop and reflect, to play one NRL game is pretty special, to chalk up 50 is pretty nice as well."
The game also marks the return of coach Ivan Cleary, who has missed four games this year, including the last two, through complications arising from a knee injury.
In the days before the round 14 win over Newcastle, Cleary was hospitalised when a blood clot spread from his knee into his lungs.
"He's looking better now, I've seen him getting around the place a bit better," Panthers centre Izack Tago said.
"The other staff have done a good job; everything's been looked after while he's been away."
All but one member of the Panthers' first-choice 13 featured in representative round over the weekend but Tago said the side wouldn't enter the Roosters clash underdone or overworked.
"It's just another aspect of professional rugby league," Tago said.
"The boys will be preparing well this week."
Australian Associated Press
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