Newcastle Knights fullback Dane Gagai is set to return this week after a quad injury forced him out of last Sunday's match against the Melbourne Storm.
“The quad is feeling a lot better now, it was good I had that game off against the Storm even though I would have loved to be out there with the boys, they did an outstanding job,” Gagai said on Wednesday before training.
“I’m just hoping I can come back and contribute to the team.
“At the moment I’m at 90 per cent and am feeling pretty good. I’ll give it a good test tonight in an opposed session against the 20s… and will just go from there.”
The fullback returns to the Club after a successful State of Origin campaign for Queensland.
“It was a big challenge for me… I had the one game last year but was fortunate enough to play all three games this series,” Gagai said.
“It’s a pretty demanding couple of weeks and I take my hat off to the boys who have been doing it for years.
“It was a great experience and can hopefully learn from it and get better.
“There are so many great leaders in that Queensland team that every time I go in I try to take in as much as I can.
“At the end of the day they are some of the greats and I will try to bring back what I have learned and implement it into my game and be the best player I can be for Newcastle.”
Watching on last weekend, Gagai was impressed with the performance against a strong Melbourne side.
“We set that as our benchmark now and just do everything we can to move forward and get better from that game,” Gagai explained.
“We spoke about that this week that we are going to be missing a few boys, but we don’t want that to be an excuse to fall back into some of the performances we’ve had throughout the year.
“We want to stay at that level and not use it as an excuse to take any steps backwards.”
Jake Mamo played at fullback in last weekend’s match, but is out serving a one-week suspension this week.
Gagai is named at fullback for Sunday’s match against the Sharks.
“Unfortunately Jake Mamo is missing a week so I’m happy to come back into that fullback spot,” Gagai said.
“He played unbelievably on the weekend so we don’t want to make too many changes.
“I will do whatever is best for the team.”
As for the opposition, the Knights have put this year’s Round 10 defeat behind them.
“We are confident we can put up a better result than last time and are going to make it a fight,” Gagai said.
“We have shown glimpses of what we can do early in the season and we played well against the Raiders and the Storm on the weekend.
“We will try not to take a step backwards and will build from that.”