Hiku Penrith's latest winger to go down

Penrith's ailing NRL winger stocks have taken another hit, with Peta Hiku ruled out for up to a month with an eye-socket injury.

With Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak already ruled out for the opening stages of the season, Hiku played on in Saturday's loss to St George Illawarra despite copping a huge bump to the face early.

However it was revealed to be a fracture on Monday, and club doctors have ruled him out for a month.

"He's cracked his eye socket," coach Anthony Griffin said.

"It was in the first five minutes, so he's a tough kid, he played on."

Hiku was forced to fight to re-claim his position throughout the pre-season after missing the second-half of 2016 with a knee injury, but is now unlikely to return until at least round six against South Sydney.

It's also left Penrith with a distinct shortage of backs heading into Sunday's clash with Wests Tigers at Campbelltown.

Griffin on Monday confirmed that he would not rush Watene-Zelezniak back, who underwent minor knee surgery last month to remove floating cartilage.

"He's started his rehab and is going really well," Griffin said.

"He'll be definitely next week for the Roosters."

Instead, Watene-Zelezniak's brother, Malakai, will come into the frame to replace Hiku, along with 20-year-old Dylan Edwards and Michael Oldfield.

Mansour is also not due back from a serious knee injury until mid-season.

‌Hiku's injury caps off a horror weekend for the Panthers, who were flogged 42-10 by St George Illawarra and have since had to deal with the Bryce Cartwright abortion scandal.

Penrith on Monday said Cartwright was not aware of the Sunday story going to print before the game on Saturday when the back-rower contributed to seven of their 36 missed tackles.

Instead, Griffin believed the expectation placed on Penrith in the pre-season - where they were listed as equal premiership favourites for the first time in the NRL era - may have weighed too heavily on some players.

"The good thing is now we're probably wooden spoon favourites, not premiership favourites," Griffin said.

"So we got rid of that story pretty quick."

However he said he wasn't concerned that it would set a trend for the rest of the year.

"In a 24-week season my experience is that you're going to have a couple of bad days," he said.

"It's important how we respond to that now. You can over-analyse it and try and find too many answers."