Time may be running out but New Zealand Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is still hopeful Kieran Foran will play next month’s NRL season opener.
The stars are aligning for Kearney’s first season at the Warriors, with new skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and playmaker Shaun Johnson back to full fitness.
The pair will feature in Kearney’s first trial as Warriors coach – Saturday’s clash with his former club Melbourne on the Sunshine Coast.
Now Kearney is keeping his fingers crossed for another big name comeback ahead of their round one home clash against Newcastle on March 5.
Foran signed a one year Warriors deal in September but is yet to be registered by the NRL after a troubled 2016 season with Parramatta.
Kearney believed it was a matter of time before Foran got the NRL green light and was hopeful it would be sorted by round one.
“I am but if it isn’t round one, we will get him back when he gets back,” Kearney said.
“When that exact time is I couldn’t tell you.
“But after every week and day it gets a bit closer – he has had that mindset.
“I think he is handling it as well as he possibly can.”
Former Kiwi Test five-eighth Foran was released from his lucrative Parramatta deal in July last year as he addressed mental issues and was also troubled by a shoulder injury.
Foran cut a relaxed figure when he trained with the Warriors on Friday after travelling with the trial squad to the Sunshine Coast.
He may be an observer on Saturday but the thought of Foran forming a halves combination with former Golden Boot winner Johnson this season clearly has Kearney excited.
“I wouldn’t be complaining about it, put it that way,” he smiled.
Johnson will play the first half of Saturday’s trial against Melbourne after sitting out the Auckland Nines with a groin complaint.
“He has pulled through the week’s training really well – he will be good to go,” Kearney said.
Meanwhile, Tuivasa-Sheck is finally back from a season-ending knee injury suffered in April 2016, and will take over the captaincy from veteran Ryan Hoffman..
Asked if there were any lingering doubts about his knee, Tuivasa-Sheck said: “I put a lot of work into it – now I have to trust that and just go out there.”