BETWEEN World Cup carnage and the usual whirlwind of off-season surgeries, a host of NRL players are racing the clock for round one.
Recruit Jack Bird is the biggest doubt for round one following off-season shoulder surgery. If not ready for the opening match he should return within the first month. Andrew McCullough (ACL), Anthony Milford (shoulder) and Corey Oates (groin) are on track for round one following surgery. Darius Boyd (hamstring) and Korbin Sims (broken arm) pulled out of the World Cup but are certainties for the season start.
Jack Bird (Shoulder, Round 1-4), Andrew McCullough (ACL, Round 1), Anthony Milford (Shoulder, Round 1), Darius Boyd (Hamstring, Trials), Korbin Sims (Broken arm, Trials), Corey Oates (Groin, Trials)
Kieran Foran (shoulder/hamstring/back) arrived at the club with existing injuries. He has now resumed full contact training. Greg Eastwood underwent surgery on an irregular heartbeat in December and is back on light duties. Adam Elliott had a minor ankle clean-out. World Cup stars Aaron Woods and David Klemmer returned to training this week.
Kieran Foran (Shoulder/hamstring, Trials), Greg Eastwood (Heart, Trials), Adam Elliott (Ankle, Trials)
Co-captains Johnathan Thurston (shoulder) and Matt Scott (ACL) are on track for round one, with Thurston to resume contact in January. Shaun Fensom suffered a serious broken leg in the grand final and is hopeful of playing round one, but more likely to be saved for later in the first month. A host of Cowboys carried injuries through the finals but only Kane Linnett (elbow) and John Asiata (hand) required off-season surgery. World Cup big guns Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean return in January.
Johnathan Thurston (Shoulder, Trials), Matt Scott (ACL, Trials), Shaun Fensom (Broken leg, Round 1-4), Kane Linnett (Elbow, Trials), John Asiata (Broken hand, Trials), Josh Chudleigh (ACL, Indefinite)
Euan Aitken and Kurt Mann both underwent shoulder reconstructions over the off-season. They return to full contact in January. Tariq Sims missed the World Cup for Fiji due to a minor clean out of his wrist. World Cup stars Ben Hunt, James Graham and Gareth Widdop joined pre-season this week.
Euan Aitken (Shoulder, Trials), Kurt Mann (Shoulder, Trials), Tariq Sims (Wrist, Trials)
Clint Gutherson has his sights set on round one following a knee reconstruction, but may be held back by medical staff. Recruit Tony Williams is aiming for the final trial following his own ACL injury. Kane Evans is expected to resume full training in late January or early February after undergoing surgery on a sickening forearm fracture sustained in Fiji's World Cup opener. Jarryd Hayne has officially joined the club after time off following the World Cup. Frank Pritchard has retired.
Clint Gutherson (ACL, Early season), Kane Evans (Broken arm, Trials), Tony Williams (ACL, Trials), Frank Pritchard (Retired)
Tautau Moga, Mitch Barnett and Daniel Saifiti will be right for round one after off-season shoulder surgeries. Nathan Ross had an elbow arthroscope, a finger reconstruction and eye surgery. Luke Yates and Cory Denniss both had minor ankle surgery. Jack Johns fractured his arm playing for Italy in the World Cup, but will be back to full contact well before the trials. Dylan Phythian is set to miss the first month with the ACL rupture he sustained in round one last year.
Tautau Moga (Shoulder, Trials), Mitch Barnett (Shoulder, Trials), Daniel Saifiti (Shoulder, Trials), Nathan Ross (Elbow/finger/eye, Trials), Luke Yates (Ankle, Trials), Cory Denniss (Ankle, Trials), Jack Johns (Broken arm, Trials), Dylan Phythian (ACL, round 5)
Tyrone May is expected to miss the first month after injuring his ACL in the semi-final. Corey Harawira-Naera, Waqa Blake and NYC hooker Wayde Egan are hopeful of playing round one after undergoing shoulder surgery. Moses Leota had a sinus operation, while Sione Katoa is all but assured to start the season following a knee issue. Young fullback Dylan Edwards is being managed through the pre-season with an ongoing groin issue.
Tyrone May (ACL, Round 5), Corey Harawira-Naera (Shoulder, Round 1), Waqa Blake (Shoulder, Round 1), Wayde Egan (Shoulder, Round 1), Moses Leota (Sinus, Trials), Sione Katoa (Knee, Trials), Dylan Edwards (Groin, Managed)
Greg Inglis returns to full training in January following an ACL injury sustained in round one last year. Angus Crichton opted to have the troublesome middle finger on his left hand amputated instead of undergoing another reconstruction, which would have taken months to recover. Adam Reynolds (foot), John Sutton (knee) and Tyrell Fuimaono (hip) all went under the knife but will be right for round one. Star recruit Dane Gagai begins training in January after an extended break following the World Cup.
Greg Inglis (ACL, Trials), Angus Crichton (Finger/hip, Trials), Adam Reynolds (Foot, Trials), John Sutton (Knee, Trials), Tyrell Fuimaono (Hip, Trials), Connor Tracey (ACL, Indefininte)
Josh Hodgson is aiming for an August return after rupturing his ACL playing for England in the World Cup. Joe Tapine suffered a minor knee injury for New Zealand but is in no doubt for round one. Sia Soliola had a minor elbow clean out over the off-season.
Josh Hodgson (ACL, round 20), Joe Tapine (Knee, Trials), Sia Soliola (Elbow, Trials)
Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves underwent stem cell therapy on knee injuries but have now returned to training. Recruit Cooper Cronk started training last week following the World Cup.
Boyd Cordner (Knee, Trials), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Knee, Trials)
Jake Trbojevic will be right for round one after tearing his pectoral playing for Australia in the World Cup. Dylan Walker went under the knife to fix a broken leg and dislocated ankle sustained in the Prime Minister's XIII clash against PNG. He is expected to miss the first month. Johnathan Wright had finger surgery. Jorge Taufua is hoping to start the season after tearing his ACL in June last year.
Jake Trbojevic (Pectoral, Round 1), Dylan Walker (Leg/ankle, Round 5), Johnathan Wright (Finger, Trials), Jorge Taufua (ACL, Round 1)
Andrew Fifita and Kurt Capewell are back in training following minor ankle surgery. Star recruit Matt Moylan had arthroscopic knee surgery early in the pre-season but is now back on the paddock.
Andrew Fifita (Ankle, Trials), Matt Moylan (Knee, Trials), Kurt Capewell (Ankle, Trials)
Recruit Sandor Earl is out for the season with an ACL injury. Christian Welch will be right for the season start following a knee reconstruction. Patrick Kaufusi is aiming for the trials as he rehabs a foot injury that ended his time at the Cowboys. Will Chambers played with a broken toe in the World Cup but is in no doubt for the season start.
Sandor Earl (ACL, Season), Christian Welch (ACL, Round 1), Patrick Kaufusi (Foot, Trials), Will Chambers (Toe, Pre-season)
David Nofoaluma pulled out of Samoa's World Cup side to undergo hernia surgery, but will be right for round one. Jacob Liddle had a second shoulder operation after dislocating his shoulder back in July. Chris McQueen will be right to start the season following neck surgery, while Moses Suli is battling stress fractures in his ankle.
David Nofoaluma (Hernia, Trials), Jacob Liddle (Shoulder, Indefinite), Chris McQueen (Neck, Trials), Moses Suli (Ankle, Indefinite)
Plenty of Titans have spent time on the operating table but all are hopeful of playing the opening round. Winger Anthony Don is in the most doubt for round one after an infection forced him into a second round of shoulder surgery.
Michael Gordon (Hand, Trials), Jarrod Wallace (Groin/shoulder, Trials), Anthony Don (Shoulder, Round 1), Ryan James (Ankle, Trials), Ashley Taylor (Ankle/Shoulder, Trials), Nathan Peats (Shoulder, Round 1), Morgan Boyle (Knee, Trials), John Olive (Elbow, Trials), Karl Lawton (Shoulder, Trials), Dan Sarginson (Shoulder, Trials), Jack Stockwell (Shoulder, Trials)
The World Cup has caused havoc with the Warriors' pre-season, with 13 players returning late due to World Cup commitments including star players Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson. Recruit Gerard Beale suffered a severe broken leg for New Zealand in the World Cup and is aiming to return in May. Solomone Kata missed the World Cup due to a broken foot but will be right for round one. Agnatius Paasi is on the road to recovery following shoulder surgery but will be fit to start the season.
Gerard Beale (Broken leg, Round 10), Solomone Kata (Foot, Trials), Agnatius Paasi (Shoulder, Trials)