Joey Leilua is on the cusp of a return to the NRL after defying the odds to overcome a career-threatening neck injury.
Leilua has overcome a neck surgery which left him in intensive care to be named in the Raiders' 21-man squad to face the Sydney Roosters at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
His impending return is a major boost as the Raiders look to force their way into the top two with Nick Cotric and Ryan Sutton also coming back into Canberra's 17.
The 27-year-old underwent surgery on a bulging disc which was placing pressure on his spinal cord in May and club officials feared his season was over.
But Leilua has been named on an extended bench for the top four showdown with Bailey Simonsson looming as the most likely to make way should the Samoan international return to action for his 200th NRL game.
His comeback could cause a backline reshuffle given Cotric has been named to fill the centre position vacated by Leilua.
The timing could not be better for the Green Machine as they prepare for a blockbuster fortnight against the NRL's premier outfits in Sydney and Melbourne.
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"I know he has been doing it tough," Raiders co-captain Josh Hodgson said.
"It has been a long time since he has played and it feels even longer when you're in rehab on your own just getting flogged and lifting weights.
"He has hung in there, and to come out of it like this is a sign he must have been doing something right. I'm sure he'll be champing at the bit to play.
"He's going to be a massive addition to our squad come finals time, so certainly, getting some game time under his belt and getting ready for the semis is going to be a massive thing for us.
"A fit, strong BJ Leilua is a scary thing when you're defending."
Cotric's return from a three-game suspension sees Michael Oldfield drop back onto the extended bench, while Sutton's comeback pushes Emre Guler back into the No. 20 slot.
The definite return of two - and potentially three including Leilua - key players to face the Roosters is a major boost as Canberra look to even the ledger with the men from Sydney's east this season.
But Hodgson believes there is no doubt it would have created "a few headaches for the boss" Ricky Stuart.
The Raiders coach sat down with his leadership group in recent days to try to settle on a winning formula for the Roosters clash, and Jarrod Croker laughs "we didn't really come up with an answer".
The easiest option was to throw his best back onto the park and that is just what Stuart has done.
"When you've been winning, it creates a massive headache for the coach," Hodgson said.
"Who do you pick? Do you change a winning team? I've had a few chats with him over these past couple of days. It's a good headache to have.
"In previous years we have been swapping and changing the team because of performances and we haven't been quite up to par.
"This year, to have some young kids who have put their hand up and really established themselves as first team players, people like Bailey Simonsson, you just can't move him.
"He's a young kid who has been outstanding and he is pushing other people out of position.
"That's what you want in your team, these are the headaches you want as a coach even though sometimes they're not nice."
Meanwhile, Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns from suspension with Zane Tetevano shifting back to the bench.
NRL ROUND 21
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters at Canberra Stadium, 2pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Nick Cotric, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Ryan Sutton, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Joey Leilua, 20. Emre Guler, 21. Michael Oldfield.
Roosters squad: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Brett Morris, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Sam Verrills, 10. Isaac Liu, 11. Angus Crichton, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Victor Radley. Interchange: 14. Nat Butcher, 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Poasa Faamausili, 17. Sitili Tupouniua, 18. Lindsay Collins, 19. Drew Hutchison, 20. Matt Ikuvalu, 21. Lachlan Lam.