Kurri has lost experienced centre Sam Wooden to a potentially season-ending back injury but chief play-maker Jade Porter could make a surprise return as the Bulldogs look to get their premiership campaign back on track at home against Coalfield arch-rivals Cessnock on Saturday.
Bulldogs coach Ron Griffiths has revealed Wooden has had three spurs break off on his spine and he faces at least a four to six week stint on the sideline.
“I’m not too sure but we may not see Sam back again this season,”Griffiths said.
“We’ve now got Sam and Peter Cronin out along with Mick Campton and Jade.”
Griffiths was coy about a possible return for Porter after ankle surgery but did confirm he has run at training this week.
“He’s back running but we’ll see how he pulls up. He could still be a week or two away.”
The Bulldogs were leading the competition a month ago but have dropped their last three games to find themselves outside the top five on percentages.
But they won’t strike the Goannas at a better time with forwards Paul Carter, Kurt Warden and Joe Bromage all out suspended.
“I thought we got things back on track despite the loss last weekend but this is a local derby so you never take them lightly,”Griffiths said.
Kurri will wear special indigenous jerseys in the game.
In other matches on Saturday, Macquarie is at home to Central, Wests take on Lakes United at Harker Oval and Maitland host South Newcastle.
Defending premier Macquarie will be out to end a six game losing streak against the Butcher Boys at Toronto with coach Adam Bettridge declaring it is pretty much now or never for his bottom-placed side.
“I think we’ll have to win five of our last seven to make the finals,” he said.
“It’s going to come down to how badly we want it. Everyone is accountable including me as coach and this one won’t be easy.
“I think they will be the team to beat by the time we get to the semis.”
Centre Nathan Cantor returns for the Scorpions but they have lost Nathan Hinton due to work commitments.
Lakes United coach Todd Edwards believes his front-running Seagulls face their biggest test of the season against the Rosellas at Harker.
“It’s a massive test for us – I still think they are the team to beat,’ Edwards said.
“Their centres [Brad Tighe and Ryan Walker] are among the best in the comp, their fullback [Sam Keenan] is a real handful, they have smart halves and a big front six.”
Lakes will be without in-form Nick Glohe, who is in Europe playing for Scotland in World Cup qualifiers.
Maitland will be without suspended prop Dane Tilse for their clash against the Lions at Maitland No 1 Sportsground.
In a triple-header Ladies league tag round on Sunday at Maitland, the Pickers take on Souths, Kurri meets Cessnock and Wests play Lakes.
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