Manly winger Jorge Taufua is confident he can make a return to action this weekend against Cronulla despite not being named by coach Geoff Toovey for Sunday’s clash with the Sharks at Brookvale Oval.
Taufua has been sidelined since February when he dislocated his shoulder in a trial victory over Parramatta, but the former Parramatta junior, who has been tipped as a NSW State of Origin contender, is still hopeful of playing this weekend.
“All the rehab’s gone well so it’s just up to Tooves to put me out there and see how I go,” Taufua said.
“I’m available, so it’s up to Tooves if he picks me.
“A few boys have been playing really well but I’m available if he picks me.”
“It’s been a tough few weeks watching but I can’t wait to get out there with the boys for the first game for me. I’m excited.”
Representative back-rower Glenn Stewart is back after missing Sunday’s heavy defeat by the Wests Tigers with an ankle injury.
Sharks coach Peter Sharp has kept faith with the same team that brushed aside the Warriors for the team’s first win of the season.
The Tigers will look to record back-to-back wins for the first time this season against North Queensland at Campbelltown, but will have to do so without in-form fullback James Tedesco and suspended veteran five-eighth Braith Anasta.
Tedesco has an ankle problem that looks set to keep him out for up to nine weeks, giving an opportunity for 20-year-old Kurtis Rowe to make his NRL debut.
New Zealand-born Rowe is a product of the Keebra Park High School that produced former Tigers great Benji Marshall.
Rowe was a stand-out in the Tigers’ Holden Cup side for the last two years.
Former Penrith playmaker Blake Austin will make his debut for the Tigers in place of Anasta who will serve the first ban of his 14-year NRL career after pleading guilty to a shoulder charge on Manly winger David Williams.
Premiers Sydney Roosters welcome back Jared Waerea-Hargreaves from a one-game ban for Saturday’s visit to Parramatta.