In doubt Sutton backs Bears
Veteran Rabbitoh John Sutton has backed one of North Sydney Bears' halves Cody Walker or Darren Nicholls to make their NRL debut if he doesn't recover from a glut strain in time for Friday night's clash against the Bulldogs.
With usual hooker Issac Luke and five-eighth Luke Keary both out due to suspension, questions over Sutton's availability couldn't come at a worse time after being named in the halves by coach Michael Maguire.
"I have to get some tests to make sure I'm 100 per cent otherwise I won't play. I haven't done any contact and I've just been doing straight line running which felt pretty good but I'm not sure how I'll go with all the other stuff yet," Sutton said.
"If I feel ready to play then I'll play, but if I don't think I'm up to it then I definitely won't play.
"I did something the day before [playing the Cowboys last Thursday] in the captain's run and I thought it was alright but then in the game I stood up after being tackled after I was twisted and I had no power driving off my leg."
The prospect of either Walker or Nicholls – with the former named on an extended bench – making their debut is a real possibility.
Glenn Stewart's return from suspension provides another option Maguire may utilise in the halves.
"If they get a chance then I'm sure they'll do a good job. They train with us and everything and they are both energetic. They're very good talkers on the field and classy players. Especially Cody, he has the knack to score tries," Sutton said.
"It's one of those things where if you get your opportunity you want to take it with both hands and when Madge gives someone at this club an opportunity they usually do."
Back-rower Jason Clark backed his former skipper's assessment of Walker and Nicholls.
"I've been lucky enough to play a few games with them and if Madge does go with one of those boys I'm sure they'll do a good job," Clark said.
"For those spots, the seven and the six, you can't have players who are shy and that's definitely something they're not. They're willing and ready to give us a bit of a rev up and put us into our spots.
"I wouldn't say it's risky either. I believe in all the boys here. If anyone here is given a shot I'd back them all the way and support them."
As for Luke's replacement, with Cameron McInnes still out injured with an ankle injury, Maguire has named Paul Carter in the No. 9 jumper.
However Clark said he is capable of filling in at dummy-half too, having debuted there back in 2009.
"[If I played at hooker] it won't be anything fancy. There will be a lot of service from the ground from me that's for sure," Clark laughed.
"It's never great losing two key players like that, and to be honest it's hard [to think who replaces them]. We have a good range of players being able to fill multiple spots here."