Watene-Zelezniak still eyes Panthers' No.1

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak continues to covet Penrith's No.1 jumper.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak continues to covet Penrith's No.1 jumper.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak insists he still has a future in Penrith's No.1 jersey even if Dylan Edwards is named fullback for their season-opener against Parramatta.

Brought to the Panthers as a young fullback during Ivan Cleary's first stint as coach, Watene-Zelezniak played 12 games as custodian last season while Edwards was injured.

He also starred at fullback on New Zealand's tour of England at the end of last year but has been restricted to light duties for the majority of the pre-season following knee surgery and won't play until round one.

Meanwhile Edwards has been named fullback for Penrith's first pre-season trial against South Sydney on Saturday in his return from a serious shoulder injury.

And while halfback Nathan Cleary predicted this week Edwards would win the spot for round one given he's spent the pre-season at the back, Watene-Zelezniak said he still hoped to play there in the future after returning to training on the wing.

"Fullback is what I want to play but I'm always for what's best for the team so I can handle that," Watene-Zelezniak, who played fullback and centre growing up, told AAP.

"(Cleary) knows that I prefer fullback.

"He also knows that I love playing rugby league and I'll do whatever it takes for the team to win and if that's on the wing that's what I'll do.

"It's just practising wherever you can because it's a long season and things change."

Watene-Zelezniak led New Zealand for the first time last summer but doesn't expect to be a chief contender for the Penrith captaincy.

Cleary is yet to announce his skipper for 2019, with Isaah Yeo and James Maloney considered favourites after the role was shared last year following the mid-season retirement of Peter Wallace.

Regardless, Watene-Zelezniak wants to become more of a leader within the side.

"I will bring that back here and try to help as many people as I can through my experience," he said.

Australian Associated Press