Kurri Kurri coach Ron Griffiths said injured playmaker Jade Porter would return when the time is right for joint leaders the Bulldogs.
Porter underwent ankle surgery last week to repair damage which has kept him sidelined for most of the Newcastle Rugby League season.
The 35-year-old former Wests and Maitland pivot, who turned in consecutive man-of-the-match performances to open the 2018 campaign for his new club, is expected back on the run home towards finals but Griffiths won’t be pushing the matter.
“Jade’s had surgery on his ankle and they reckon it’s a four-week turnaround to be back running,” Griffiths said.
“We’re hoping [he returns] the back end of the year, but we don’t want to take any risks with him.
“At this stage of his career, we want to make sure he has himself 100 per cent right before playing again.”
Porter could be fit by the time Kurri hosts Western Suburbs on Saturday, August 4, in a match re-scheduled from this weekend.
The round-seven fixture has been postponed at the request of Wests, who have three players selected in the NSW Rugby League combined representative squad travelling to Queensland from Friday.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s out of our control and we can’t do anything about it,” Griffiths said. “We’ve been in this situation before when games get postponed or transferred for various reasons so we just have to prepare to the best of our ability and get ready for the next challenge.”
The Bulldogs are away to Maitland on June 23, which will be Kurri’s first run in three weeks coming off the most recent competition-wide bye.
The tri-colours will have Newcastle under-20 representative Reid Alchin fresh from being named players’ player for the Emerging Rebels against Canberra in Sydney on Saturday.
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