Sydney Roosters say it is “looking promising” that NSW half Mitchell Pearce will play in Friday night’s must win NRL semi-final with Canterbury.
Out of action the last fortnight, Pearce has finally been named to make his return from a troublesome hamstring complaint for the sudden death clash with the Bulldogs in Sydney.
Pearce’s return is a boost for minor premiers the Roosters after they suffered their first loss in 13 starts in their qualifying final against Melbourne.
“He’s been running well but he’s got a few boxes to tick before he takes the field but it’s looking promising,” assistant coach Steve McNamara told Roosters TV.
Jackson Hastings has been named on the bench as cover.
Roosters forward Boyd Cordner has also been named despite suffering a hip injury against the Storm.
The Bulldogs have Lloyd Perrett as cover for second-rower Frank Pritchard (grade one dangerous contact) who will have his fate decided at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.
Pritchard was cited for kneeing St George Illawarra five-eighth Gareth Widdop in Saturday night’s 11-10 elimination final win.
North Queensland and Cronulla have named unchanged starting sides for their Saturday night semi-final in Townsville.
Cronulla captain Paul Gallen admitted niggling hooker Michael Ennis would be walking a tightrope after escaping a ban from a grade one careless high tackle with an early plea.
Ennis has 95 carry over points heading into the finals.
“I thought he was pretty unlucky to be charged,” Gallen told Sky Sports Radio.
“He can’t even sneeze on anyone now though.
“The way he plays, he likes to get in there and he niggles around so he will have to be careful.
“But it’s do or die now, we have to throw caution to the wind.”
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan added Matt Prior to the 17 which beat South Sydney in last Sunday’s elimination final.
At the Cowboys, coach Paul Green said he would decide whether to cut Ray Thompson or Rory Kostjasyn from his extended bench later in the week.
Green said his side hoped to bounce back from their 16-12 qualifying final loss to Brisbane.
“Physically they are okay, just disappointed. They know they didn’t make the most of their opportunities,” he said.
“They know there are no more second chances.
“The way we see it sudden death footy has come a week early.”