The smiling face of Sione Katoa was back around Sharks training earlier today with the star outside back on the road to recovery after breaking his jaw in round one.
Katoa underwent a successful surgical procedure in Townsville to repair two fractures in his jaw before flying home the next day, and while it is near impossible to fast-track a return to the field with an injury of this type, hopes are high that the Sharks emerging star will be available for selection somewhere close to round six.
As was the case when Jayden Brailey suffered a similar injury last year, Sharks High Performance staff will use Katoa’s time out of the game to continue to improve his physical aspects while his jaw continues to heal.
As for the other Sharks currently sidelined, Luke Lewis has this week been named on an extended bench as the veteran backrower inches closer to a return to the field.
Lewis has been out of action since aggravating a plantar-fascia injury in his foot in the captain’s run training session in Townsville before the Cowboys match.
Sharks medical and coaching staff will monitor his progress at training this week before deciding whether he is fit to face the Eels on Saturday night.
Of the others missing from the opening two rounds of the season, Braden Uele’s rib cartilage problem is recovering, with the former Cowboy hopeful of possible return this weekend, however more likely to be available in round four, while young halfback Kyle Flanagan will play his first game of the 2018 season when he turns out for the Newtown Jets on Sunday following time on the sidelines with a broken thumb .
Flanagan suffered the injury in the Sharks trial match against Manly.
The remainder of the Sharks squad, as selected to play for both the NRL side and the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership, are fit to take their places in the respective teams this weekend.