HULL FC head coach Lee Radford expects Gareth Ellis to come out of retirement - 18 months after his last Super League appearance - to play for the injury-hit squad at Wigan Warriors on Sunday.
Hull have named their former captain and ex-Great Britain star in the 19-man squad as they are without a raft of key forwards.
Ellis, who turns 38 in May and led the club to two Wembley wins before retiring in 2017, played for the reserves against Wakefield Trinity on Saturday.
He is the club’s reserves coach and also works as a first-team assistant after operating as football manager last year.
Radford, whose side are on a 13-game losing run dating back to last June, said: “I think he’s ready.
“We’re in a unique situation with Josh (Bowden), Chris Green, Lewis (Bienek) injured and Tag (Scott Taylor) now with his suspension.
“We’re in a funny situation with regards our go-forward.
“Gaz has been ticking over with regards training - constantly jumping in and out with the team - and what I saw on Saturday against Wakefield in the reserves, I’m pretty sure he’s not going to be far off the pace.
“We needed to see - and he needed to see - where he was at, I think between his ears.
“But yes he still showed some glimpses there of what forged the career he obviously has had.”
Ellis was twice named the best second-row in the world after starruing for Leeds Rhinos and then Wests Tigers in the NRL.
If he plays against Super League champions Wigan, it will also mark his 100th game for Hull.
Ellis almost came out of retirement last year when the Black and Whites hit an injury crisis but resisted the temptation.
Asked if he will definitely play, Radford said: “Yes, I think he’ll play.
“He was there or thereabouts last year and was getting tinkered and toyed about with.
“It probably came just too soon then in terms of training. He probably had not had enough.
“But this time around he’s been pedalling around the country, doing keep-fit challenges etcetera and he looks as good as he did when he played.
“He brings that steel in the middle and, just watching the game on Saturday, his voice as well.
“Vocally he's still the loudest bloke out there, in the right sense, and I’m pretty sure he can have an influence on the game in that department as well.
“You can put a number on his age, clearly, but you can’t quantify what he brings to the group.
“You listen to his contacts. It was nice on Saturday as I was really close to the touchline and it sounds a little bit different to other players when he belts them.
“I think some of the blokes he was running at were too young to have watched him play - as they kept going at him unfortunately!”
Hull have also included in the 19-man squad winger Ratu Naulago, their rugby union convert who has now signed a permanent deal having enjoyed an impressive trial spell, scoring five tries in four games, including a hat-trick against Wakefield in that reserve fixture.
The Fijian recently helped Saracens to the Premiership 7s title, whilst he has also been on the books at Harlequins and Bath.
He has represented the British Army on the international stage in both the 15-man code, as well as 7s rugby.
Radford said: “Ratu has shown significant improvement in a short space of time with us and he has earned the respect of everyone in the team and our staff by going as hard as he can in pre-season to earn this opportunity."
“He is still pretty new to the game but he has adapted well. We watched a lot of him in rugby union and 7s so we know what he is about and we’re looking forward to him making great strides."
Hull hope to have loose forward Dean Hadley returning from injury but he faces a late fitness test tomorrow.