Michael Morgan’s earlier-than-expected comeback from injury for North Queensland’s’s qualifying final against Brisbane headlines a number of key returns for the first week of the NRL playoffs.
Morgan was initially not expected to play again this season after suffering an ankle injury against the Warriors in round 24.
But the Queensland utility is expected to be fit for the match with Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, in a huge boost to the Cowboys hopes of claiming their first premiership.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was quietly confident about the return of Morgan.
“I hope so, he’s done a little bit of running,” Green said.
“But again, we’re guaranteed – win, lose or draw – a second week in the finals, so we’re not going to take any unnecessary risks.
“I don’t need to say how good Morgo’s been at different times for us this year.
“We’ll welcome him back if he’s fit.”
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt is also expected to return after missing Brisbane’s last-start loss to Melbourne with a quad injury.
For South Sydney, skipper Greg Inglis is likely to be back for the Rabbitohs’ elimination final.
The superstar fullback missed the last two games of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery.
Cronulla star Andrew Fifita’s club-imposed suspension ends in week one of the finals but he isn’t certain to return for the Sharks’ elimination final after picking up a lower leg injury at training during the week.
St George Illawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop is only a 50-50 chance of returning for the Dragons’ elimination final after missing the last round win over Wests Tigers.
Brett Morris missed Canterbury’s final match of the regular season with the Warriors due to a leg injury. But he will be on deck for the Bulldogs’ elimination final.