Grave fears were held for the immediate playing future of four of the Sharks big guns when they failed to complete the match against the Dragons last Friday night.
Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen limped off during the first half with what appeared to be serious knee injuries, Wade Graham hobbled from the field with a hamstring complaint, then in the dying stages Luke Lewis needed assistance after a cork suffered some around his knee region.
The early indications were the quartet would be out of action for an extended period, meaning the Sharks would potentially have 997 games of NRL experience sitting on the sidelines.
While the news on Paul Gallen was somewhat expected, a medial ligament strain and around a month out of action, scans were kinder to the other three, all who have been named in the Sharks 21-man squad to face the Panthers.
Initially feared to have torn an ACL, which would have equated to a season-ending injury, Fifita received a positive diagnosis, with the international front rower amazingly a genuine chance of being fit to play on Sunday.
He has been named in the Sharks starting side, pending fitness assessments during the week.
As for Lewis, his injury is settling nicely and he too has been selected in the Sharks run-on team, with hopes high that he will be fit to play against his old club this weekend.
And in relation to Graham, although hamstrings injuries shouldn’t be rushed, he too is an outside chance of recovering in time for Sunday’s game with his scan results revealing only minor damage.
Graham has been chosen on an extended reserves bench.
Of the other Sharks currently sidelined, Jayson Bukuya remains unavailable with an abdominal strain, with his return likely in round nine.
James Segeyaro, ruled out last week after suffering a concussion in the game against the Roosters, has been cleared to play and exciting youngster Sione Katoa, after making his return in the Intrust Super Premiership playing for the Newtown Jets in round six, came through that game unscathed and will get another chance to impress this weekend when he goes around again with the Sharks ISP partner club.
The Sharks v Panthers game is scheduled for a 4.00m start on Sunday, with the Sharks 21-man squad to be trimmed down to 19 in the 24 hours prior to the game, before the 17-man side is revealed one-hour before kick-off.
The current Sharks 21-man squad is listed below.
NRL Team List – round 7
Sharks v Panthers
Sunday, April 22
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick off – 4.00pm
1- Josh Dugan
2- Edrick Lee
3- Jesse Ramien
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Valentine Holmes
6- Matt Moylan
7- Chad Townsend
8- Andrew Fifita
9- Jayden Brailey
10- Matt Prior
11- Luke Lewis ©
12- Kurt Capewell
13- Joseph Paulo
14- Scott Sorensen
15- James Segeyaro
16- Ava Seumanufagai
17- Kurt Dillon
18- Jack Williams
19- Trent Hodkinson
20- Wade Graham ©
21- Braden Uele