Attack of the clones as Miski takes on Mansour again

Both players are looking forward to the opportunity.

“It was definitely a good match-up [during the Rugby League World Cup] and full credit to him, he definitely deserved to make his NRL debut,” Mansour said.

“He’s a guy that really worked hard and I’m stoked for him.”

Prior to his debuts for Lebanon and the Sea Eagles, Miski’s greatest claim to fame was his likeness to Mansour. However, the Lebanon international has no issue with the constant “Mansour clone” references.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Miski said. “He’s a great player, it doesn’t matter. As long as I keep pushing myself to play NRL, they can call me whatever they want.

“I marked up on him when he played for Australia and that was good. It would be great to do it again.

Doppelganger: Josh Mansour is back in first grade and will face Abbas Miski again.Credit:Christopher Pearce

“I didn’t know him before. We shook hands after. It’s a weird connection.”

Much is at stake for both players, as well as their teams. The Panthers need to make their win against the Eels the start of a streak to have any chance of playing finals, while the Sea Eagles are attempting to remain in the top eight despite a mammoth injury toll.

In Miski’s case, he has been juggling jobs while attempting to make it in rugby league.

“I’ve been personal training ever since I left school. I like working in the health and fitness industry,” he said.

“That obviously complemented football – getting stronger, faster and fitter.”

The Panthers have injury problems of their own, forcing a backline reshuffle. It is a measure of how far out of favour Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has fallen that he has again been overlooked despite injuries to Dean Whare and Waqa Blake. Coach Ivan Cleary has gone with debutant Brent Naden and forward Isaah Yeo as his makeshift centre pairing after Watene-Zelezniak asked permission to negotiate with other clubs.

Asked if the Kiwis captain could be recalled if he didn’t find another home, Cleary said: “That’s a hard one to answer right now. He and his management have made that request and I understand there are conversations going on in the background.

“At this point we are focused mainly on players who want to play for Panthers and if that’s the case – if you want to play for Panthers and you’re good enough – you’re always a good chance to make it here.”

Tom Trbojevic is close to a comeback from a hamstring injury and could be back for the round 13 clash with North Queensland.

“We’ll see how he goes later this week with his training but we’ve got our fingers crossed; maybe an outside chance of Cowboys,” Hasler said.

Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

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