Jack CoggerTeenage Knights half Jack Cogger is in line for an earlier than expected return frompelvis-stabilising surgery and a hernia repair.
Cogger, who played six NRL games last season,has been training with Newcastle’s top squad this week, just two months after having the operation.
The 19-year-old was expected tobe sidelined for about 14 weeks but coach Nathan Brown said he could make his return in the lower grades as early as round 11.
“He’s starting to get close, Jack,” Brown said. “I don’t think he will be right this week, but they are planning on, if everything goes smooth, that he will play the following week.”
** Nathan Ross may reconsider travel arrangements next time he finds himself on a road trip.
The Knights winger made the four-hour trek back from Mudgee on Monday after his representative debut for City, but he did so sitting next to towering forward Pauli Pauli in the back seat.
“I was like a sardine in a can,” Ross joked at training. “It was a little bit tight there.”
Ross wasn’t the only one cracking jokes this week.Asked if the returning representative players might be rested at training this week, Knights prop Josh Starling said: “I’m not sure they did too much during the week. The boys had a few too many buffets so they might need to get in to do some extra training,” he smiled.“I think they will be right. They’re out there for a reason so they are pretty professional and they’ll be right to go.”
AAP reports: Canberra halfback Aidan Sezer expects prop Shannon Boyd and captain Jarrod Croker to overcome injury and face Newcastle.
Boyd (leg injury) didn’t play for Australia against New Zealand on Friday night, while Croker (arm)was unavailable for the NSW City-Country game along with the rest of the Raiders.
“I have no doubt those boys will run out ready to play on Sunday,” Sezer said on Tuesday.
“It’s round 10 and everyone’s getting knocks and bruises and I guess that’s accumulating over the weeks now so hopefully we can stay in good nick and keep a healthy squad.”
Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua and Junior Paulo were the only Canberra players involved in representative round, giving the majority of the squad a well-timed break after defeats to the Bulldogs and Manly.
“We came off the back of two tight losses and we were thoroughly disappointed with it, but it was good to get off the legs and freshen up mentally and physically and ready to fight back this week,” Sezer said.
“We’ve been assessing out last two games and where we’ve gone wrong.
“It hasn’t been up to the Raiders standard we pride ourselves on.”
Josh Papalii will complete his suspension over a drink-driving conviction against the Knights, with Sezer admitting the star forward’s absence will hurt the side.
“In my opinion Papa is the best back-rower in the competition,” Sezer said.
“It’s big shoes to fill. We probably won’t have someone that can do the job Papa does each week but that’s paying respect to the player he is.”
Struggling Newcastle have won three games in two NRL seasons, but a draw and a four-point win to the Raiders last year will give them hope of an upset.
“Last year they finished wooden spooners and both times we played them they sent us to golden point,” Canberra forward Luke Bateman said.
“We’re definitely not expecting it to be an easy game. They’re always tough especially at home.”