The Panthers and Storm have both received huge boosts ahead of their preliminary final showdown with representative halves Jarome Luai and Jahrome Hughes named to return from their respective injuries.
Luai has been missing since he dislocated his shoulder against Parramatta in Round 26 but has been cleared to return less than a month after there were fears his season was over.
It’s a massive inclusion for the Panthers who are hunting a third title in as many years, with halves partner Nathan Cleary also good to go after he was sent was precautionary scans on a finger injury on Monday.
Jack Cogger did an admirable job for Penrith while Luai was out and he’s been rewarded with a spot on the bench.
The good news keeps coming for Penrith with Izack Tago overcoming a pec strain and will play in the centres against a Storm side who couldn’t stop him when they met earlier in the year.
There’s mixed news for the Storm with winger Xavier Coates unable to recover in time from an ankle injury, but at least they get Hughes back after the playmaker missed the dramatic win over the Roosters with a calf injury.
Tyran Wishart filled in last week but drops back to the bench which means hooker Harry Grant will definitely start on Friday night.
On Monday Hughes said he felt like he would be ready to go.
“I‘m tracking really well. I’ll take it day by day, I don’t really want to rush anything,” he said on Monday.
“I’ve just to get back into training. I didn’t train very much at all last week, I sort of left it to the back end of the week and didn’t get over the line. This week I have started really well, I had a trot yesterday.
“I’m a competitive guy, especially around finals. I was probably giving the physio a headache last week telling him that I was sweet but he didn’t think so.
“The thing I don’t want to do is go in underdone. If I can’t get through the game it puts my team under pressure, so I’ll make sure I’m ready to go.
“I ran really well yesterday but calves are tricky … I’ll definitely be smart about it.”
It’s a far more settled squad up in Brisbane where the Broncos are set to unleash the same 17 that smashed the Storm in the qualifying final with all their stars getting through the game unscathed.
It’s a similar story for the Warriors who had several injury concerns to come out of their big win over the Knights but appear to be fully fit as they look to reach their first grand final in 12 years.
Shaun Johnson (calf) got through last week’s game without any concerns, while Marata Niukore (knee), Josh Curran (finger) and Wayde Egan (head knock) have all been named and are set to play.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/double-boost-penrith-and-melbourne-welcome-back-key-playmakers-for-epic-preliminary-final-showdown/news-story/27b16cf276fe16c43a9b39c19f718074 NRL 2023: Luai and Hughes return from injury for finals clash