Star winger Valentine Holmes is expected to take his place in the Cronulla side for Saturday’s NRL semi-final against North Queensland despite battling a quad injury.
Holmes left the field with 20 minutes to play in the Sharks’ elimination final win over South Sydney on Sunday and didn’t return.
However the injury has progressed well. Holmes trained with the Sharks on Wednesday in their first full session since the win over Souths and he is likely to play against the Cowboys in Townsville.
Holmes was named in coach Shane Flanagan’s side on Tuesday amid concerns over the leg injury, but in-form Sharks back-rower Wade Graham was confident Holmes will take the field at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
“I think Val will be sweet,” Graham said at training on Wednesday. “It is just a cork in his leg. I think it did bleed a fair bit down to his knee so it is all about his range of motion.
“We will get him out there today, he will have a run around and I am confident he will play.”
Holmes’ fitness is a huge boost to the Sharks’ chances of toppling the Cowboys at home.
So too is the form of Holmes’ fellow young gun Jack Bird, who laid the platform for the Sharks’ comprehensive win over the Rabbitohs with a first half try.
“Jack has been through a lot in his young life already, he had that serious arthritis issue and he had to battle through that,” Graham said.
“To get through that and even to play one game is enormous but to kick on and to see him playing really good football at this time of the year, I’m just stoked for the kid.”
Graham said he is “enjoying the ride” that is the Sharks’ premiership challenge as they fight the Cowboys for the right to play Melbourne at AAMI Park next week for a spot in the grand final.
“Last week it was so exciting to be playing the defending premiers and I am so happy to still be in it and so excited to be heading to Townsville this week,” Graham said.
“We have a good group of guys we love getting away together and having a laugh and taking the mickey out of each other. It will be a tough challenge for sure but we are looking forward to it.”