The Sydney Roosters are set to welcome back NSW centre Michael Jennings from a back injury for Saturday’s crucial round 21 NRL match against St George Illawarra in a massive boost to their flagging premiership hopes.
With Sonny Bill Williams sidelined for a month with a thumb injury, Blues winger Daniel Tupou not due back for at least three weeks due to a back injury and Mitch Aubusson out for two weeks with an ankle complaint, Jennings’ return comes at a welcome time for the premiers.
The Roosters have lost two of their last three games to bottom four sides with Jennings out.
The Dragons clash at Allianz Stadium will be his first match since Origin II.
Jennings returned to contact training last week and trained strongly on Monday and Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello indicated he would take the field against the Dragons.
“He is very close. He could be a chance this week,” Minichiello said.
“We will just see how he gets through the week and hopefully he will be back on deck.
“We do have some quality players on the sidelines and hopefully we can get those back over the next couple of weeks.”
The Roosters have only enjoyed a win over the struggling Penrith over the last month and Minichiello said the Tricolours quickly need to find some consistent form six weeks out from the finals.
“It’s not time to panic at all. Obviously the (last) result wasn’t ideal for us. Newcastle played well in the second half and got the two points and our focus is now on St George.
“It’s not long now, six weeks to go, you want to try and build momentum heading into the finals and give yourself the best shot at it.
“Time is running out but we are confident in our ability and confident in our structure that we can put some wins together and build that confidence and momentum.”
The Roosters sit in fifth spot on the NRL ladder, six points behind Manly, who lead the competition by two wins.
Minichiello said the side they defeated to win the 2013 title were now the clear favourites for this season’s premiership.
“Manly are definitely the team to beat, no doubt about it; they have been the most consistent team all year,” he said.