Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson is ready to throw England second-row Brett Ferres straight back into his starting line-up today – six weeks ahead of schedule.
Ferres, 29, has been sidelined since damaging his ankle against Salford Red Devils on Good Friday.
He was expected to miss three months of action following the injury, caused by an illegal “cannonball” tackle by Rangi Chase that gained his former Castleford Tigers team-mate a seven-game ban.
However, after just a six-week absence, Ferres is named in Huddersfield’s 19-man squad for this afternoon’s crunch Challenge Cup sixth-round tie at Leeds Rhinos.
He has made swift progress in his rehabilitation and, having successfully come through full training this week, Anderson will not be afraid to throw his vice-captain straight back in for the crucial televised contest.
Hooker Luke Robinson, meanwhile, says Huddersfield are intent on making up for last year’s cup misery.
The Giants controversially exited the competition at the fourth-round stage against St Helens after Danny Brough had a drop-goal attempt ruled out before Luke Walsh’s winning one-pointer.
That defeat, coupled with the 2009 final loss to Warrington, has given Huddersfield plenty of motivation this year.
“People say it’s harder to lose a semi-final than a final, but that’s an absolute load of rubbish,” said Robinson.
“When you get to a final in front of all them fans, all your friends and family, and it’s something you’ve dreamed about since you’ve been a kid, to not lift the trophy is heartbreaking.
“Last year was very tough for me to take as well, but it just spurs you on to try and lift the trophy.”
Huddersfield, who are unbeaten in their last four games, are at full strength.
Anderson made one late change to his squad with Oli Roberts coming in for young forward Josh Johnson but it is the unexpected return of Ferres that has given them their big boost.
A star of the 2013 World Cup, his attacking quality will be crucial if Huddersfield are going to progress.