Brett Stewart 'won't play next month' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brett Stewart 'won't play next month'

By Ed Jackson 29/07/2009 04:21:54 PM Comments (0)

It's one of the most anticipated comebacks this NRL season, but Manly coach Des Hasler says fullback Brett Stewart won't be back on the field for at least a month.

The Test fullback has been sidelined with a knee injury since round six but has started running in the past week, increasing speculation he will return ahead of his scheduled round 24 recovery.

But Hasler says despite Stewart being back on the training paddock he won't be rushing his return.

"The plan is this. Brett has a month of running in front of him," the Sea Eagles' coach said on Wednesday.

"He's completed one week last week and he's started his second week this week ... at the end of the month the medical and the rehab unit will reassess it then.

"Questions about when is he coming back, I cannot answer because I'd only be hypothesizing and I'm not into hypotheticals."

With the Sea Eagles sitting fifth on the NRL ladder with just six rounds remaining after a strong second half of the season, doubts the team could perform without Stewart have certainly been quashed.

And Hasler said Stewart's return in time for the club's finals campaign would be more of a bonus than a necessity.

"I think at the moment we're in the situation where we're winning games without Brett so I think that's a good thing," he said.

"It's a good start.

"Obviously as it really starts to ramp up now and sides are hitting form at the right time then if we get Brett Stewart back, it's a bonus isn't it, because he's a pretty exciting player.

"I think he's the best fullback in the world. His strike rate's phenomenal but that's all upside ... we won't know until at least a month."

With or without Stewart, Hasler says the Sea Eagles are full of confidence after losing just two games since round nine.

Of the teams above Manly in the top four - St George Illawarra, Gold Coast, Melbourne and the Bulldogs - only the Storm have significant experience of finals football.

And Hasler was in no doubt when asked if that knowledge of what it takes to play in the finals would help the Sea Eagles.

"Definitely. We were written off at the start and we've certainly been flying under the radar, I think anyway," he said.

"We've certainly got the experience and the fact that we've been there before, we know what's required."

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