The other contenders
Brad Walter and Greg Prichard
September 6, 2010
Forwards Bryce Gibbs and Liam Fulton are set to return for Saturday night’s second qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters at the SFS. Gibbs has been sidelined for three weeks after fracturing a kneecap in the Tigers’ 43-18 round 23 win over Penrith at Campbelltown Stadium and Fulton has missed the past four matches with a calf injury. Centre Geoff Daniela also hopes to play. He was called up as a replacement for Chris Lawrence (broken jaw) for Friday night’s match against Gold Coast but was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring problem. But fullback Wade McKinnon (hamstring), who also missed the 21-18 loss to Titans, is considered little chance. Coach Tim Sheens has rejected speculation that Tim Moltzen will return from a knee reconstruction for the finals. Moltzen and winger Taniela Tuiaki, who has not played at all this year, are back in training but Sheens said they would not play until next season.
Former Test fullback Anthony Minichiello will have a fitness test before being cleared to take his place against Wests Tigers on Saturday night. Minichiello (hamstring), hooker Jake Friend (calf) and forward Mose Masoe (shoulder) were late withdrawals from the side that beat North Queensland 18-8 in Townsville but coach Brian Smith is hopeful they will all be fit to play the Tigers. Forward Daniel Conn is also available after missing the Cowboys match due to suspension for a grade-four reckless high tackle. ‘‘Mini will have to show us that he is right early in the week this week,’’ Smith told reporters. ‘‘We would expect that he would be and we would expect that Jake will be. We’ll have Daniel Conn back from suspension and big Mossie will be right as well. He had a bit of a shoulder problem, I’m not sure but he’s probably the most doubtful of the three.’’ With the Tigers having the luxury of an extra day’s rest before the clash, Smith said the main focus would be to get the players’ energy levels up and then working on arresting a slump in attack that is plaguing the club.