Long-term Leeds Rhinos casualty Stevie Ward is back in contact training and in line for a playing return this month.
Ward has been out of action since suffering a knee injury in Rhinos’ Betfred Super League round three defeat at St Helens on February 22.
Giving an update on Rhinos’ injury list, interim-coach Richard Agar confirmed Ward is now stepping up training ahead of being given the green light to play.
The home game against Catalans Dragons on Sunday, June 30, has been pencilled in for the back-rower’s comeback and Agar said: “He is progressing really well.
“There’s some strength things he has got to work on in terms of injury-prevention, but over the next probably two weeks we will start filtering him back in with the main group.”
Prop Nathaniel Peteru, who suffered a fractured eye socket in last month’s Magic Weekend win over London Broncos, is expected back on the field in July.
Agar said: “We gave him a week off because he had surgery.
“Post-operation we let him go away and rest and recuperate a little bit.
“He will be able to do some watt bike and some running until mid-June and then he can start his weights, then contact again towards the end of June.
“We’d expect him back the first or second week in July.”
Peteru has been one of the mainstays of Rhinos’ pack this year, making 13 starts and one appearance off the bench.
Agar admitted: “It is a tough one because as a middle he had been a really solid and steady presence for us.
“We will certainly miss him, but we will get him back strong for the back end of the season.”
Other players on Rhinos’ casualty list are full-back Jack Walker (hamstring) and forwards Jamie Jones-Buchanan (hamstring), Carl Ablett (ankle) and Dom Crosby (knee).
Walker was not risked away to Wakefield Trinity last Friday after his hamstring tightened during his comeback against London two weeks earlier, but Agar confirmed he will be available for Friday’s visit of Wigan Warriors. Jones-Buchanan has not played since the defeat at Salford Red Devils on May 3.
“He is progressing well,” Agar said. “He’s having no issues with his hamstring at this moment in time. He is seeing a specialist this week about some neural symptoms he’s having and there’ll be a follow-up next week with the consultant.
“At this moment in time I am not too sure when he will be available.”
Neither Ablett nor Crosby have played this year.
Both were carrying injuries in pre-season and have had to undergo further surgery.
Ablett last week revealed a blood clot has delayed his return, but said he is hopeful of being in contention for the run-in to the end of the season.
Agar said: “He has had another setback, but he has got another appointment in three weeks’ time to see a specialist and we’ll get a better steer on whether he will be good to return to play then.”
Of Crosby, Agar added: “He is progressing well from his re-hab and in his strength training, but he is going to be a while yet.”