Broncos prop Matt Lodge is on track to return with the rest of the NRL in six weeks as he recovers from what was first feared to be a season-ending ACL injury.
Lodge will meet orthopaedic surgeon Dr Tim McMeniman in two weeks in the hope of being back on the training paddock with Brisbane teammates early next month, and then potentially being available for the proposed May 28 restart date.
The slated recovery time frame would be a remarkable turnaround from mid-February when Lodge went down at training fearing an ACL rupture.
Follow-up assessment confirmed Lodge had only suffered a partial tear - coach Anthony Seibold is optimistic about having the 24-year-old back on deck when Brisbane can resume training.
"He's progressing really well," Seibold said.
"If he gets the all-clear from the specialist in two weeks we'd expect him to be doing some training when we get back on the training paddock in May.
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"All going well, as long as there's nothing unforeseen we'd probably expect Lodgey to be there or thereabouts once we start playing again if May 28 is the day.
"Obviously we've got time. He and the medical staff could've pushed it if we were still playing in this period.
"But we need to make sure we look after him in the long term and we've got time to do more rehab and keep his knee in a brace for longer.
"We'll be smart about that, but we've always thought it'd be about 12 weeks and there's nothing to suggest that he won't be available."
Lodge has played with the partial tear since 2015 and according to Seibold, is not placing his knee at any extra risk of long-term damage by playing again this year.
The NSW Origin hopeful and his partner, Jessica O'Sullivan, celebrated the birth of their second son, Tommy, last week.
Brisbane managed to claim two tough wins over North Queensland and South Sydney without Lodge before the NRL was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
His return would be an undoubted boost for their young pack, particularly with Tevita Pangai jnr suspended for the first month of a rescheduled competition.
"He's in our leadership group, he's a dominant front-rower," Seibold told NRL.com.
"He played really consistently in what was a really inconsistent year for us last year so he'd be great addition to get back.
"But we're not going to rush him, he's worked really hard and is progressing as we expect."
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Elsewhere captain Alex Glenn (hamstring) and halfback Brodie Croft (shoulder) are expected to be fit for whenever training resumes, as are outside backs Corey Oates (ribs) and Jordan Kahu (calf).
The club is awaiting further clarification on the NRL's proposed competition structure before locking in plans for the rest of 2020.
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The Broncos would prefer not to have to relocate their squad to NSW if Queensland's border restrictions prevent the club from training out of Red Hill and flying south on game days.
Seibold is confident biosecurity measures put in place to protect players, staff and community will ensure a safe return.
Strict self-isolation measures – including locking down part of the Clive Berghofer Centre – temperature checks and daily individual health checks will all be in place for Broncos players and stay once training return from the start of May.