Puletua plans comeback soon

By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au

INJURED Kiwi international fo-ward Tony Puletua believes he can get back on to the field for the Penrith Panthers before their 2005 NRL season campaign is over.

Puletua, who was in Gladstone on a promotional visit alongside his cousin and fellow Panther Ju- nior Moors, was originally ruled out for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle playing for the Panthers against Melbourne in April.

'I'm trying to come back in four weeks, the injury's healing well,' Puletua said at the Emergency Services Touch Day in Gladstone on Saturday.

The big second-rower said it had been frustrating watching from the sidelines as the Panthers, finals regulars in recent seasons, slumped to 13th spot on the ladder with just five wins from 19 starts.

'It is frustrating, knowing there's not much I can do about it,' he said.

'We just can't seem to get things together ... we need to finish this season, have a good offseason together and sit down and have a really good look at what things went wrong.'

Puletua said the Panthers were struggling to deal with the loss of several experienced players over the past two years including noted tryscorers Ryan Girdler (retired), Paul Whatuira (Wests Tigers) and Amos Roberts (Sydney Roosters) as well as noted hardmen Scott Sattler (Tigers, now retired) and Martin Lang (retired).

Puletua was a big hit with touch players at Saturday's event, tak- ing the field for stints with several teams, and at junior coaching clin- ics at Boyne Island and Calliope on Sunday.

Moors, an Australian under-19 and schoolboys representative, is likely to be out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury al- though he said he could make it back for the final Penrith/St Mary's Cougars Premier League match of the year.

The 18-year-old has signed on for another two years and will look at breaking into the top grade for the Panther's next season.

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