Canterbury star Kieran Foran has been ruled out of making his NRL return in round three after his specialist elected to take a cautious approach with his injured shoulder.
The 29-year-old underwent scans on Tuesday with hopes he would make a speedy comeback despite early fears he’d miss the entire 2020 season.
However, he was not named by the Bulldogs for their meeting with Manly on Sunday, despite hopes he had done enough rehabilitation since suffering the injury at the end of last year.
Foran will undergo more contact and strength work next week to prove his fitness for a return date.
In his place, coach Dean Pay has named Lachlan Lewis and Jack Cogger in the halves for Sunday’s clash with the Sea Eagles at Central Coast Stadium.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has named James Roberts on an extended bench for Friday’s anticipated clash with the Roosters.
Campbell Graham and Braidon Burns have been named to start in the centres after Roberts spent two weeks in a rehabilitation facility to deal with mental health issues.
Skipper Adam Reynolds said while Roberts has been full of energy around the team, there is no pressure on him to return to the field.
“He is a big part of our team. He can score points and create a few dramas for the other side from anywhere on the park,” Reynolds said.
“It’s just important we got him back healthy and happy.”
Bennett has stayed true to his word and named Latrell Mitchell at fullback for the grudge match with the NRL premiers, where the 22-year-old will face his former club for the first time.
Troy Dargan has been named to make his NRL debut in the halves alongside Reynolds while five-eighth Cody Walker serves a two-match suspension.
Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner was rested for the first two rounds of the year but returns as his team eyes a first win of the season.
Meanwhile, Josh Dugan has been named in the centres for Cronulla after Bronson Xerri was stood down for testing positive to banned substances.
However, there is some positive news for the club with fullback Matt Moylan named on an extended bench.
There is hope he could return to the field for the first time since August last year following complicated calf and hamstring injuries.
Josh Morris, who left the Sharks after round two, will make his club debut for the Roosters in the centres to play alongside his brother Brett.
Elsewhere, Knights have not named new recruit Andrew McCullough for their clash with Penrith.
Rising hooker Chris Randall will make his NRL debut from the bench with Connor Watson named at No.9.
Local junior Tex Hoy will also make his NRL debut for the Knights, replacing a suspended Kalyn Ponga at fullback.
Brisbane prop Matt Lodge has been named to make his return from a serious knee injury against Parramatta in the round three opener on Thursday night.
For Wests Tigers, Josh Reynolds has been left out of the 17 with Harry Grant named to play his first game for the club at hooker.
NRL ROUND 3 MATCHES (ALL TIMES AEST)
Broncos v Eels at Suncorp Stadium, 7.50pm
Cowboys v Titans at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, 6pm
Roosters v Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium, 7.55pm
Warriors v Dragons at Central Coast Stadium, 3pm
Sharks v Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium, 5.30pm
Storm v Raiders at AAMI Park, 7.35pm
Panthers v Knights at Campbelltown Stadium, 4.05pm
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs at Central Coast Stadium, 6.30pm.