Hodgson, Vaughan in doubt for Raiders
Canberra Raiders duo Paul Vaughan and Josh Hodgson are in doubt for their Round 7 Telstra Premiership clash with the Sharks at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
Coach Ricky Stuart made it clear on Tuesday he won't play the pair if they aren't healthy as he expects a physical showing from the Sharks.
Hodgson and Vaughan were both injured in Canberra's 30-point loss to the Eels last weekend but have been named in Stuart's side for Round 7.
Hodgson suffered separate thumb and knee injuries – with the former believed to be causing the most grief – while Vaughan succumbed to an ankle injury late in the game.
"I just want to make sure [Hodgson] is 100 per cent. He's been such an important part to the team over the start of the season so I'm hoping he will physically be okay. He controls the ruck very well and he's a great asset to our two halves," Stuart said.
"Vaughany won't know until the back end of the week either. I'm hoping he'll be okay but he's going to have to do some training for us to select him.
"It'll be a very physical game against Cronulla. It always is and that's the way they play. I just believe I need the healthiest possible team this week in regards to their physical welfare.
"The Sharks are in the top four for a reason and they're playing consistently strong and some of their players have jumped into some really good form."
Stuart admitted he is running short of front-rowers considering Jeff Lima (hand) and Sia Soliola (arm) are already injured.
Mitchell Barnett or Jarrad Kennedy are the most likely replacements for Vaughan if he isn't cleared while Adam Clydsdale is likely get the nod for his first NRL game as a Raider if Hodgson fails in his bid to play.
"We're starting to run dry in the front row so injuries are hurting us a little bit," Stuart said.
"We have our fingers crossed that Paul will be okay but Bateo [young prop Luke Bateman] came on against the Eels and did a good job.
"He didn't get a lot of minutes but he'll certainly get more this weekend."
Veteran forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala meanwhile has put his hand up to lead the way for his young forward pack against Cronulla.
"I think it's always been my responsibility off the field and on it to be a leader. Jeff and Sia and maybe Vaughany are big losses so everyone has to pick up the slack in the forward pack," he said.
"We were a bit disappointing in the middle especially in defence. We need to aim up and provide a good platform for our halves."