Dilemma: Boyd Cordner trains this week. Photo: Getty Images
Sydney Roosters mentor Trent Robinson will wait until Saturday to decide whether to risk Boyd Cordner after a seven-week lay-off, with Aidan Guerra's performance against Newcastle last weekend believed to be causing a selection headache for the rookie coach.
It is understood Robinson always intended to play Cordner in the premiership decider if he was fit but Guerra's impressive form has him questioning whether to gamble on a player who hasn't played in almost two months.
Injuries have cast a cloud over the make-up of both the Roosters and Sea Eagles for Sunday, but there's no bigger decision leading into the grand final than whether Cordner, a potential bolter for the Kangaroos' World Cup squad, is worth rolling the dice on.
The back-rower hasn't played since injuring his ankle against Canberra in round 22, and while Robinson has so much faith in Cordner he appointed him vice-captain at the start of the season, he could have asked little more from Guerra.
''A guy like Boyd Cordner, people see a 21-year-old,'' Robinson said. ''We don't see that. He has some experience, is a tough man and is also a realist. He isn't going to let the boys down by playing if he isn't ready to play 80 minutes.
''Just the enormity of the game puts a lot of pressure on these decisions. People think about these games for the rest of their lives so playing a guy or not playing a guy is really important. But we're really comfortable with the selections we are going to make so it hasn't been an issue for us. It'll be made up on Saturday.
Cordner was ''close'' to being fit for last Saturday's preliminary final against Newcastle.
Guerra, who has been filling in on the left edge Cordner made his own for most of the season, produced one of his better games of the year against the Knights to leave Robinson a conundrum.
While a decision on Cordner is based on team chemistry, Luke O'Donnell is expected to return to the team if he can prove he has overcome the hamstring injury that ruled him out of last week's preliminary final.
Rookie forward Dylan Napa replaced O'Donnell and either he or Isaac Liu would be expected to drop off the bench if the former Test back-rower is fit to play.
Manly coach Geoff Toovey is also yet to decide between rookie forwards James Hasson and David Gower for the final bench spot to replace Richie Fa'aoso after the former Melbourne premiership winner broke his neck against South Sydney in last Friday night's preliminary final.
Veteran Joe Galuvao had come into calculations for a shock comeback after a supposedly career-ending Achilles injury in April but that appears unlikely as he is attending a media event on Friday with NRL chief executive Dave Smith and entertainers Ricky Martin and Jessica Mauboy. Speculation about Galuvao, who will officially retire after Sunday's grand final, initially emerged when NRL officials were advised he may not be able to attend the press conference and he has trained with the side this week in a bid to make a comeback.
While Toovey wouldn't rule out a fairytale finish for the former premiership-winning Panthers forward, he admitted Galuvao was unlikely to play for his third title in a career that spans more than 16 years. ''He's in the mix but it'll be highly unlikely,'' Toovey said. ''He's had 20 weeks off and underwent a major surgery coming back from an Achilles injury. He trained hard this week trying to prove himself. He's in the mix but he's a long shot.''
Robinson said the Roosters were prepared for Galuvao to be a late inclusion. ''Obviously that's an option,'' he said. ''I wouldn't be completely surprised if he did and I wouldn't be completely surprised if he didn't.''