Ryan Sutton was meant to be gone for the season. But through hard work and sheer bloody mindedness the Canberra Raiders prop is back in the NRL finals picture.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Sutton was fit and ready to play, which was why he was named in the 21 to face the Melbourne Storm in the preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Sutton (knee) injured his medial ligament against Cronulla in the final round of the regular season and was ruled out for the finals.
But he set his sights on returning by the NRL grand final and he's done that - potentially giving Stuart a selection headache in the process.
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The entire Raiders forward pack is in sensational form - just as Sutton was before he got injured.
"He's in the 21. He's fit and able to play," Stuart said.
"It's a compliment to him. Basically he had an injury we thought was going to be the season and he's just worked tirelessly.
"His commitment and professionalism towards his rehabilitation has given him this opportunity to be available."
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Stuart also praised his medical and strength-and-conditioning staff for preparing his team to face the Storm.
A number of players picked up knocks in the Raiders' stunning semi-final victory over the Sydney Roosters last weekend.
But Stuart said the likes of star prop Josh Papalii (ankle) and centre Jordan Rapana (sternum) had gotten through the week's training.
"We have. I compliment my medical staff and the high-performance team a lot, but it's for a reason," he said.
"They're very good at their jobs and they've got a wonderful relationship with the players and they get the boys up each week.
"They're the ones doing a lot of overtime now to get the boys back to physical condition."
NRL PRELIMINARY FINAL
Friday: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Semi Valemei 3. Jarrod Croker (c) 4. Jordan Rapana 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Tom Starling 10. Sia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Dunamis Lui 16. Hudson Young 17. Corey Harawira-Naera. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams 19. Matt Timoko 20. Ryan Sutton 21. Michael Oldfield.
Storm squad: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Brenko Lee 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nicholas Hynes. Reserves: 18. Dale Finucane 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Chris Lewis.