Richard Agar refused to disclose his team choices for round one against Wakefield, but gave fans an update on the fitness of Luke Gale and the chances of him and Kyle Eastmond making the side.
“Kyle’s close, in terms of the halfbacks it’s been a very short period for both of them to be ready for the game,” Agar said.
“Luke’s injury wasn’t so bad anyway and, being an upper body injury, it was a case of making sure – from a tackle perspective and range of movement – that he was going to shave off a bit of the 12-week waiting time for him.
“Kyle has had 6-7 months out of sport and rugby league and playing 6, you’ve got to have that involvement in the game.
“We need to ensure that Kyle from an engine perspective is fully assimilated with the way we want to play – you don’t want to be interchanging halfbacks.
“He’s very studious and within a couple of videos, he picked up major changes about teams how are attacking now.
“He sits there with his pad and pen and draws diagrams for one-on-one tuition, but he’s fitted into it pretty seamlessly.
“To be an international standard halfback after nine years out is being pretty unrealistic, but we’re looking forward to seeing a very good player once he gets up and running.”
With Eastmond potentially out, the replacement for halfback has been talked about, though it won’t be Cameron Smith.
“Cam is one of those players that is multi-skilled, we’ve named him in one position and played him on the ball a bit – positions, unfortunately, aren’t what they used to be.
“We’ve used Cameron in a ball-playing role in the line with the halves playing off him, but when he has had to defend on the edges he’s had to do a lot of work on his lateral speed, so we won’t be going with him in the halves.”
Matt Prior was a concern during pre-season, given the Australian’s worries about the coronavirus pandemic, but Agar commended Prior on his attitude since returning.
‘Matt’s good to go – he’s a vastly experienced player and he’s 33, but in tremendous shape and he’s certainly a player that’s got to plenty of football left in him this year and potentially next year.
“Being a middle, it’s not that difficult trying to integrate back into a team that hasn’t had too much change. We know what a good pro he is and he’s come back in top shape, there’s no dramas. Zane is good to go too.”