Anthony Tupou is preparing to face his mental demons in his return to action from the horrific jaw injury he suffered in May.
Tupou is back training with Cronulla’s NRL squad and is expected to play again in just over a fortnight.
However, the Sharks are considering bringing the veteran back via the NSW Cup to allow the him to rebuild confidence after the incident which nearly ended his career.
The back-rower had 10 metal screws and four metal plates surgically inserted into his jaw after copping a knee to the head while attempting to tackle rampaging Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell.
Hurrell was suspended for three weeks and subsequently vowed to amend his running style.
Also standing in the way of Tupou making his round-21 return in the NRL is the fact that the Sharks play the Warriors again that week. That unwanted reminder of his injury would be asking a lot on his comeback.
While the Sharks are taking a cautious approach with Tupou’s rehabilitation, his looming return is timely.
Cronulla are only outside the eight on for-and-against and knocking on the door of a semi-finals berth which looked highly unlikely after they lost their first four matches of the season.
With skipper Paul Gallen back from State of Origin duty and the squad approaching full strength, they look well poised to play finals.
“With Gal back from Origin and Toops not far away, it’s a big confidence boost there,” five-eighth Jack Bird said.
“We’re not far off being full strength but, when we are, we’re going to be hard to stop.”