As expected, Paul Gallen will make his long awaited return from injury for Cronulla in Sunday’s NRL home clash with the Sydney Roosters.
In a shot in the arm for grieving NSW fans, Gallen has finally overcome a hip complaint that sidelined him for the Blues’ 11-10 State of Origin I loss.
Gallen revealed he was close to returning a week earlier against the Dragons.
“I began full training last week and was pretty good early in the week, then came to a scrimmage session on Thursday night,” he told 2KY’s Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday.
“I actually got through the scrimmage session okay but that night just pulled up really sore, and the next day pretty sore again.”
Gallen must still pass a fitness test but is expected to run out against the Roosters in preparation for June 17’s Origin II clash in Melbourne.
He returns for his first game since round six, nudging Jayson Bukuya back to an extended bench that also features Chris Heighington (ban), Ricky Leutele and Sosaia Feki (both injury).
He will line up against a Roosters team that surprisingly did not name classy centre Blake Ferguson (ankle).
The man on everyone’s lips in round 13 – Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans will also not feature if the official team lists are to be believed.
However, Cherry-Evans is expected to overcome the shoulder complaint that kept him out of Origin I and run out against Brisbane on Friday night.
He trained with the side for the first time in several weeks on Tuesday and must play this weekend to be considered for Origin II.
Brisbane lock Corey Parker has been rested for the Manly clash but they welcome back his Queensland teammates Justin Hodges and Sam Thaiday.
At Penrith, pivot Jamie Soward has been named despite nursing a shoulder complaint caused by Eels forward Pauli Pauli’s controversial late hit.
There were still major changes at the already injury-ravaged Panthers with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak slotting in at fullback for Matt Moylan (ankle).
Moylan is expected to be sidelined for months after surgery, which is scheduled to take place next week.
Dean Whare (hamstring) and Tyrone Peachey (suspension) are back for a Penrith outfit that must combat returning Melbourne fullback Billy Slater (shoulder).
At the Bulldogs, English international James Graham (knee), Trent Hodkinson, Josh Morris and Josh Jackson (NSW Origin) are back for Monday night’s clash with ladder leaders the Dragons.
However, Brett Morris (hamstring) is again a notable omission.
At Wests Tigers, captain Robbie Farah (shoulder) is out and Aaron Woods is back in after a post-Origin rest for Friday night’s clash with Gold Coast.
At Newcastle, skipper Kurt Gidley swaps with injured halfback Tyrone Roberts (ankle) for Saturday’s home clash with Canberra.
Knights forwards Kade Snowden and Korbin Sims also return.