Brett Stewart close to NRL return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brett Stewart close to NRL return

By Todd Balym 18/08/2009 05:08:58 PM Comments (0)

Manly fullback Brett Stewart is edging closer to an NRL return with Sea Eagles hooker Matt Ballin conceding there is a slight chance the prolific tryscorer could play this Sunday against Melbourne.

Stewart has not played since sustaining a knee injury in round six, but has been an ominous figure running around at Manly training sessions for the past few weeks.

While the 24-year-old did not run with the squad during a ballwork session at Narrabeen on Tuesday, Ballin admitted Stewart's comeback was imminent.

"He is having a run around today, it depends on how he pulls up," said Ballin when asked if Stewart could face the Storm in Melbourne this weekend.

"Hopefully he plays, but there is no rush to get him back until he is fully fit.

"If he is not quite right they won't rush him back, but if he is ready to go he will go."

Stewart had been pencilled in for a round 24 return, but last Saturday coach Des Hasler flatly denied the fullback would be fit to face the Storm.

He was left out of the side named on Tuesday, with Michael Robertson still wearing the No.1 jumper, but a return is likely to be made next weekend when Manly host Cronulla at Brookvale Oval.

With Manly sitting in sixth place on the NRL table but still locked in the dogfight just to reach the finals, Stewart's return would provide a significant spark to their attack as they look to defend their NRL premiership.

The Sea Eagles lost all four games at the start of 2009 when Stewart was suspended by the NRL for bringing the game into disrepute, but he scored five tries in his two appearances this year.

Test winger David Williams said the return of Stewart for the finals would boost the Sea Eagles, but warned teammates and fans not to expect heroics from the star player of 2008.

"Having Brett back is a massive bonus but we've just got to focus on doing it as a team," said Williams.

"We can't put a lot of pressure on him, the poor bloke has only played a couple of games in the year.

"No one is putting too much pressure on him and I think everyone else has to lift around him."

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