Cowboys coach Paul Green was giving little away at his pre-game press conference as to whether co-captain Matt Scott would make a remarkable return from injury this weekend but said Scott had trained strongly and remained in the frame.
The Kangaroos and Maroons prop tore an ACL back in Round 2, just over six months ago, meaning a return this week would be quicker than average but not unrealistically so.
"We'll see. He trained today so we'll see how everyone pulls up tomorrow," Green said on Friday.
"He trained well today. At this stage he's still in the 21. He's right on the borderline of coming back, a guy of his experience [would handle it].
"The other reason he was included is because he's worked hard to get himself in this position so I think given his standing in the club, being one of the captains I think I owe him at least that much to include him in the 21.
"So whether or not he plays tomorrow we'll see. At this stage he's a leader of the club, he's a great player, we all know how good a player he is. He wanted to be included so I think I owe him at least that."
Scott's knee and also match-conditioning would be issues if he were to return, though Green said he wouldn't be expected to play the same role as if he were coming in fully fit.
"Whether or not he starts, I don't know. Both [the knee and match fitness] would be a consideration but the main concern would be the knee," Green said.
"It's been about seven months now which in an ideal world we'd like to wait another few weeks but he's not far off.
"He's going to be around the team regardless of whether he plays or not. It does give the boys a boost having him around. He wants to contribute, it shows how much he cares about the team and the club. It's an exciting time of year."
Elsewhere in the squad, Green said Coen Hess was ready to play despite having his knee twisted awkwardly in a tackle last week.
"There's a couple of bumps we got out of last week. Hessy had a bit of a knee problem and Antonio [Winterstein] but both those guys got through well," Green said.
Regardless of whether Scott takes the field, Green said both he and fellow injured co-captain Johnathan Thurston still had a big role to play in helping the team.
"They're both our captains if they were on the field, they've still got a role to play off the field," Green said.
"Probably more prominent the role they do off the field. Having them around, I know the boys really appreciate it and it's good for the group.
"No one puts themselves above anyone, it's a team and that's how we approach everything we do."