St George Illawarra’s big guns have returned just in time as they prepare to fight to keep their NRL finals hopes alive against South Sydney.
Halfback Benji Marshall, NSW fullback Josh Dugan and back-rowers Tyson Frizell and Joel Thompson will all make timely comebacks for the Dragons as they seek to arrest a five-game losing streak.
Paul McGregor’s side have plummeted to seventh and could fall out of the eight with a loss to the reigning premiers in Saturday’s Heritage Round blockbuster at the SCG.
After their loss to Cronulla on Sunday, McGregor admitted the side’s injury woes had taken their toll after watching them slip from top spot just seven weeks ago.
The Dragons could also be bolstered by the return of back-rower Jack de Belin who has missed the past month after undergoing three operations to treat a knee infection.
The squad has been hardest hit by injuries in the back row, forcing McGregor to play some of his forward troops for big minutes, however the return of workhorses Frizell, Thompson and de Belin will ease the load.
Queensland fullback and South Sydney skipper Greg Inglis will also return to set up a tantalising head-to-head duel with Dugan.
Test back-rower Greg Bird will play his first game following a long suspension for the embattled Gold Coast on Saturday against Newcastle.
Bird is returning from an eight-week layoff for a dangerous throw which had rubbed him out of the entire State of Origin series.
The Titans lost six of eight without Bird and are on a three-match losing streak in 14th spot.
The Knights will also have their own hard-nosed representative back-rower making a comeback with Beau Scott cleared to take his place in the team after serving one week for a dangerous throw on Cameron Smith in Origin III.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler has signalled his intentions to continue rotating his halves with Trent Hodkinson slotting back into the starting side after being rested last week.
Hodkinson will partner Josh Reynolds and his inclusion comes at the expense of Moses Mbye who goes back to the bench against Parramatta.
Kurt Baptiste has replaced injured Canberra halfback Sam Williams, getting the nod ahead of Mitch Cornish for the side to take on Cronulla.
Aidan Guerra has been named by Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson to take on the Warriors after being given last week off.
His Queensland teammate Justin Hodges will also return to the field for Brisbane against the Wests Tigers.
The Tigers will go into the match as massive underdogs against the table-topping Broncos but have received a boost with young halfback Luke Brooks named along with Keith Galloway and Tim Simona.
Maroons representative Michael Morgan has been named at No.6 for North Queensland despite undergoing hand surgery after Origin III last week.