Knights hoping for late double boost - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights hoping for late double boost

By Steve Jancetic 03/04/2009 08:00:59 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle playmaker Jarrod Mullen is poised to make a shock return from injury for the Knights' home opener against reigning NRL premiers Manly on Sunday.

In a double boost for the Knights, both Mullen (ribs) and backrower Cory Patterson (ankle) returned to training ahead of schedule on Friday, though coach Brian Smith was taking a cautious wait and see approach with the pair.

Mullen was not due back for another fortnight after suffering rib cartilage damage in Newcastle's heroic round two win over Cronulla.

Patterson went down with an ankle sprain against South Sydney last week, and while neither was named in Smith's extended squad on Tuesday, both have come into calculations for the vital clash with the Sea Eagles.

"Jarrod Mullen and Cory Patterson have both done a bit of work with us today, it gives us some hope that they might play," Smith said Friday's pre-game media conference.

"I want to see them again tomorrow before we make up our minds on that.

"(Mullen's) been cleared by the doctor medically but we want to see that he's physically capable of taking the knocks an NRL game provides.

"He's done some work on that today but we want to see how he pulls up tomorrow."

Patterson's bid to prove his fitness is facing a double roadblock, with Smith hesitant to risk the wide-running forward.

Despite Newcastle's 1-2 win-loss start to the season, Smith said he was happy with the job being done by the players who have come into the squad.

And after finishing with just 14 fit players in the win over the Sharks, Smith is no doubt wary of taking a punt on a player with injury concerns.

"It's not often that a player comes off with an ankle injury and plays again the next week, which is why I'm being a bit conservative about it all," Smith said.

"Cory's also got the problem that we've got a number of other backrowers that are playing great footy at the moment.

"He's had a run today - he's telling me that he's ready to go but we want to see how he pulls up after what he's done today."

Patterson's inclusion would likely see Marvin Karawana drop off the interchange bench, but Smith's options are varied should Mullen prove his fitness.

Mullen and Ben Rogers were the halves pairing in Newcastle's round one loss to Gold Coast before Scott Dureau replaced the injured Rogers against Cronulla.

Last week it was Dureau and Rogers who teamed up at the scrumbase, Smith failing to indicate which way he would go if Mullen was cleared to play against Manly.

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