He's back. Canberra Raiders star hooker Josh Hodgson looks set to return from a knee reconstruction in their pre-season trial against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.
Hodgson injured his knee in round nine last season, but is tracking well in his recovery and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart could name him this week.
The Green Machine co-captain told The Canberra Times in November he had his sights set on their round one clash against the Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium on March 14.
But he could be ready to pull on the lime green jersey even earlier.
Hodgson's also being touted as the next England captain, with the Rugby League World Cup scheduled to be played in England at the end of the season.
Raiders veteran Sia Soliola said Hodgson was likely to get a run, but the entire squad was on edge waiting to see who gets selected.
Those that don't make the first-grade cut will get a run in the curtain raiser against the North Sydney Bears.
"Yeah, we'll probably get a glimpse of that," Soliola said when asked about Hodgson playing in the trial.
"[Stuart] hasn't named anyone yet. We're trying to figure it out - your guess is as good as ours.
"We'll definitely know more [this] week. We're more excited to see the back of off-season and actually start playing some games.
"There have been a couple of sessions where we've been at each other's throats a couple of times just because we're keen to play."
MORE RAIDERS NEWS
Given the Raiders' blossoming hooking stocks, Soliola said they might be able to ease Hodgson back into the fold.
Before the injury, the Raiders co-captain was an 80-minute dummy half, but his absence opened the door for the emergence of Tom Starling last year.
It means Stuart now has both Starling and Siliva Havili as rake options alongside Hodgson.
"With 'Starlo' having a good breakout year and having Siliva as well, I guess [you look at] how you may want to use Josh," Soliola said.
"It will be a question of do you keep him there for the full 80 or do you try and get a few of the other boys in? I'm not too sure.
"They're questions 'Sticky's' got to ask himself when they make the selections.
"It adds a bit of variety to the week-to-week basis [depending] on what opponents we come up against."
Soliola's part of a Raiders forward pack blessed with plenty of depth, with trial and round one spots at a premium.
The 34-year-old said that had led to some extremely competitive training sessions - and he was thankful the pre-season was coming to an end and the games within sight.
Especially given the ACT government's announcement Canberra Stadium would return to near-full capacity, coronavirus allowing, from the start of the season.
"It's like a snowball effect. One guy will run a little bit harder and you've sort of got to add more to that," Soliola said.
"But the good thing is there's been no explosions - everything's been measured - but you can just tell everyone's been slogging it out and we're just eager to play now.
"We're just looking forward to playing some footy - especially in front of crowds."
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters at 4pm; Raiders v North Sydney Bears at 2pm. Both games at Seiffert Oval.