Ben Barba’s rig injury will keep him sidelined for another week, while a lower back complaint has ruled Blake Ayshford out of the Sharks match against the Newcastle Knights on Sunday.

Barba played through the pain of a cracked rib in the Sharks loss to the Dragons and subsequently missed the victory over the Titans, with the clubs medical staff not willing to take any chances with the star utility until the injury is healed and he is deemed 100 per cent fit.

Michael Gordon and Valentine Holmes are likely to share the fullback duties in Barba’s absence.

In other injury news, a lower back strain has come at an inopportune time for centre Ayshford, who over the past three weeks has delivered some of his best performances since joining the Sharks at the start of the 2014 season.

“Blake suffered the lower back strain in the first half of the Roosters game and played on with it that night,’’ Sharks coach Shane Flanagan explained. “The injury however hasn’t settled and we need to give him this week off for him to get it right.”

The injury however isn’t deemed to be too serious, with Ayshford likely to be available for selection for the round 16 game against competition high flyers the North Queensland Cowboys.

The very capable Ricky Leutele comes into the Sharks line up this week for Ayshford, with that battle for the right centre position to become an interesting one over the ensuing weeks.

In some good news for the Sharks and Anthony Tupou, the experienced back-rower has returned to the gym and is looking to start running next week.

He returns to hospital later this week to have some of the wiring removed from his jaw which was smashed while attempting a tackle on Kiwi Konrad Hurrell when the Sharks met the Warriors in early May.

A fit and firing Tupou has the potential to become a major asset for Coach Shane Flanagan and his Sharks team towards the run home to the finals.

And finally, the Sharks will show more than a keen interest in State of Origin game 2 tonight, with Paul Gallen to lead the Blues at the MCG.

Gallen made a comeback after a lengthy absence due to a hip injury in the match against the Roosters, with Flanagan and the Sharks team hoping to have their inspirational skipper on deck for the Knights game this weekend.

For an in-depth analysis of the Sharks ‘casualty ward’ click on the following link;

CLICK HERE - http://www.sharks.com.au/info/injury-update.html