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Penrith claim Craig Gower's belated decision to seek a release to play rugby union in France may have cost the club the chance of retaining talented rookie Peter Wallace.
The Panthers have agreed to release the former Australian and NSW halfback for the final two years of his contract at the end of the season. But while denying there are any bitter feelings between the club and Gower, Panthers football manager Michael Leary has admitted Penrith would likely have kept Brisbane-bound Wallace had a request come earlier in the season. Gower says the European move and switch to rugby will be the biggest challenge of his career.
With no quality playmaker on the market, Leary says any big buy the club targets will likely come from another position. He has refused to rule out a late play for Brisbane prop Petero Civoniceva - although the Sydney Roosters and Broncos are believed to be the frontrunners to sign the Australian and Queensland star.
Elsewhere, Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has shifted Robbie Farah from hooker to halfback in response to his team's 48-18 loss to Brisbane on Monday.
Chris Lawrence has been moved from pivot back to lock, with Dean Halatau picked at hooker to play Canberra on Sunday. The Raiders have recalled Todd Carney after his six-week club suspension for driving offences.
Meanwhile, Penrith coach Matthew Elliott continues to tinker with his misfiring halves combination with Brett Firman named at five-eighth to play a Brisbane side missing their seven Origin stars.
Moving onto Origin, and Queensland and New South Wales begin their preparations for the third game of the State of Origin rugby league series today, with both sides heading into camp for team medicals.
Queensland have named the same 17-player squad which wrapped up the series two-nil in game two - despite injury concerns over Dallas Johnson (knee), Jacob Lillyman (head) and Justin Hodges (ankle).
New South Wales, meanwhile, have made minimal changes in their quest to avoid their first series whitewash since 1995, with selector Bob McCarthy making the stunning claim the Blues aren't too far off the pace despite losing the past four games to Queensland.
Greg Bird has been promoted from the bench to start at five-eighth, with Paul Gallen and Kurt Gidley added to the interchange. Brett White has been the only Blues player axed from game two.