A cluster of stars are expected to return to the NRL this week following the representative weekend, as premiership heavyweights Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and Penrith seek to re-assert their title credentials.
Key playmakers Jamie Soward (back) and Peter Wallace (knee) are set to be fit for the Panthers round nine fixture against top-of-the-table Brisbane on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Soward underwent surgery on a re occurring problem on March 17, while Wallace went under the knife on April 14, with both former representative halves making quicker than expected recoveries.
Premiers South Sydney, who have crashed to three successive losses – their worst slump since coach Michael Maguire moved to Redfern for the 2012 season – should welcome back former skipper John Sutton for his first game since suffering a broken jaw against the Roosters in round two.
Dylan Walker (hand) and Luke Keary (leg) were ruled out of the City-Country fixture, but they will also come into the frame for selection for Souths for their match with co-ladder leaders St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium next Monday.
The 12th-placed Roosters have also endured an indifferent start to their NRL campaign over the first third of the regular season. They have hit their worst slump since 2013 premiership winning coach Trent Robinson came to Bondi Junction that year, with four straight losses.
Aidan Guerra is expected to return from a broken jaw suffered in round five against Cronulla in a boost to the Tricolours hopes for their match with fifth-placed Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium on Friday night, and in a boost to the representative back-rower’s hopes of retaining his Queensland jersey.
Other significant returns include Beau Scott’s (ankle) for Newcastle against Manly at Brookvale Oval next Sunday, with Sea Eagles skipper Jamie Lyon a chance to make his comeback from an ankle injury.