As the Newcastle Knights gear up for the final home game of the season against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, coach Nathan Brown hopes to welcome a number of players back for the Old Boys Day clash at Hunter Stadium.
Experienced five-eighth Jarrod Mullen this week will undergo a fitness test after a week on the sideline due to an knee injury.
“We are seeing how he pulls up today and how he goes through the running progression which will determine whether he’s fit for Sunday’s game,” he said.
“They (medical staff) are hopeful they will be okay but until he gets through his running progression…and get a report, we won’t really know.
“We will have a meeting with the medical staff and if they think he’s going to be fit we’ll name him and if they think he’s not going to be, we won’t."
Sione Mata’utia also looks set to return into the second row after following concussion protocols last week.
“Sione is fine and has recovered from his knock and has gone through all the procedures he has to go through,” Brown said.
Centre Dane Gagai was on light duties at training on Tuesday as he continues to manage a quad issue.
“It’s the same injury he had through the Origin period, the quad he has carried,” Brown said.
"He should be okay to play and we’ll manage him throughout the year. "
Meanwhile, Will Pearsall (five-eighth) has been ruled out this week due to concussion.
“It was a bit of a nasty knock and he’s still not back at training at the moment. He’s already been ruled out this week with a concussion,” Brown explained.
In the event Mullen is not cleared to play on Sunday and with Pearsall sidelined, Brown indicated emerging half Jack Cogger would join the NRL side.
“If Mullo doesn’t play, we’ll probably lean towards Cogs (Jack Cogger). He has been playing there a number of times this year and every now and then he drops back to Under 20s and comes back,” he said.
“That’s the progression we want for Cogs this year. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t want to stick with that."
With hooker Danny Levi recovering from back surgery this week, it presents the opportunity for another emerging Knight to be considered for a possible NRL debut.
Dylan Phythian has contributed to both the NYC and Reserve Grade Knights this season and trained with the first grade team on Tuesday.
“Danny had back surgery yesterday, which I believe went well,” Brown added.
“(Chris) Adams has gone back to Lakes (United) so we have a few things we have to look at and will go through training today and see how Dylan is.
“He (Dylan) was a player early in the year when I first saw him I thought he was a good player. Unfortunately he has had a couple of years of bad injuries and has had number of injuries this year, which have limited his game time.
“He would have played some games already if it hadn’t been for a bad injury run so he’s certainly a possibility.”
In addition, forward Mickey Paea suffered a syndesmosis ankle injury and has played his last game for the season.
“We have had a fair number of changes this year, which is disappointing,” Brown said.
“We get Sione (Mata’utia) back which is important and possibly Mullo (Mullen) who is another important player, I suppose there are some positives there.”
With Nathan Ross opting for an early guilty plea and receiving a one-match suspension, Brown plans for Cory Denniss to return to first grade duties on the wing.
“Cory has been back in Under 20s for a few weeks and he played for NSW and has been quite strong in the 20s,” he said.
“If Cory’s body is fit and ready to go, I’ll be more leaning to him as I think he will become a centre wing specialist in first grade.”