North Queensland coach Paul Green has refused to rule out Jason Taumalolo making a shock NRL return in Friday night's clash with Canterbury.
The Cowboys wrecking ball was ruled out for six to 10 weeks when he went down with a grade three medial ligament strain in their round two loss to Brisbane.
But barely a month later the Tongan powerhouse is poised to make a miraculous recovery after being included in Green's 21-man squad for the Bulldogs clash.
Green said he wouldn't rush the former Dally M Medallist back and admitted the damaging lock was unlikely to play.
But he didn't dismiss the notion of Taumalolo running out against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium after naming him in his reserves list.
"I would probably like a couple of more days to have a better look at it, to be clearer whether he will be right to play," Green said.
"The rules are that I have to name the squad today so for him to be considered at all I have to name him in the 21.
"I probably don't expect him to play but he's not far off, he's done everything asked of him so far."
Green hinted at an imminent return when he revealed Taumalolo was ahead of schedule and would be back by round 12 at the latest after the Cowboys' drought-breaking last round win over the Warriors.
The victory ended North Queensland's four-game losing run.
But it was still a surprise when Green unveiled Taumalolo on his reserves list on Tuesday.
"It (return) is a fair bit earlier than initially expected so you have to be a bit cautious, you don't want to take any risks," Green said on Tuesday.
"But he knows what he has to do to be able to get his job done, he's played enough football.
"And he has been working as hard as he can to get back on the field given we had our losing streak."
Asked if he would ease Taumalolo back via the bench if the forward got the nod on Friday, Green said: "I am not sure yet, I haven't got that far down the track yet."
Green named an unchanged 17 for the Bulldogs clash.
Australian Associated Press