The loss of James Tedesco will likely be offset by the return of Luke Brooks for Wests Tigers’ crucial round 24 NRL clash against Penrith.
The Tigers need to win their remaining three matches against the Panthers, the Warriors and Canberra to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The 10th-placed joint venture sits one point behind Gold Coast in eighth place but they have been hit hard by the loss of NSW fullback Tedesco, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season because of a broken jaw.
However the Tigers on Friday are set to welcome back Brooks who has missed the last two matches due to a knee injury.
Brooks took part in the Tigers’ captain’s run before the loss to the Titans, but coach Jason Taylor erred on the side of caution in saving his halfback.
Brooks trained with the Tigers on Monday afternoon with his troublesome left knee heavily strapped, but he is tipped to return for a Pepper Stadium encounter with the Panthers who sit in seventh on 26 points.
Back-rower Kyle Lovett is confident Brooks will be on board for the final three games of the regular season.
“He was training last week and he looked pretty good. We will see how he is closer to Friday,” he said.
“It is always a boost getting a player like Luke back in the team. He has been really good for us.”
Jordan Rankin will fill in for Tedesco, with Melbourne 2017 signing Josh Addo-Carr expected to be brought in on the wing.
“Obviously Teddy is a big loss to the team, he has been a great player for us,” Lovett said.
“But we have to get on with it, there are still three games to go and we are still a chance to get into the finals.”
Lovett said Tedesco was in reasonably good spirits despite his latest injury setback.
“He said he is OK, we will find out how he is after surgery,” he said.
“He has had a few injuries but he is really good at bouncing back.”