Sharks prop Andrew Fifita has undergone minor ankle surgery but is expected to be back on deck well in advance of the opening round of the 2018 NRL season.

Fifita, who starred for Tonga in their run into the World Cup semi-finals, had arthroscopic surgery earlier this week to correct some on-going issues.

The injury wasn’t deemed to be serious or long term, with Coach Shane Flanagan confident of having his international front rower training post-Christmas and ready to go come the start of the new season.

“To his credit Andrew gave up a trip to Tonga with the team to come in and get the surgery done straight away. That will help speed up the recovery,” Flanagan said.

“He’ll be on crutches for a couple of weeks, running after Christmas and will get one trial in before round one.”

As a part of a robust Tongan forward pack, Fifita enjoyed a solid World Cup campaign, with his team coming within one play of beating England last week and booking a place in the competition final.

In 2018 he will return to a Sharks squad bolstered by the inclusion of representative players Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan, while playing alongside 2016 Grand Final-winning teammate Matt Prior and new front rower recruits Braden Uele and Ava Seumanufagai.

Fifita played 23 NRL matches for the Sharks in 2017, missing just one game through injury and one while on NSW State of Origin duty.