Eels star Ryan Matterson will return to the paddock via NSW Cup this weekend after a month's lay-off due to ongoing concussion symptoms.
Matterson has been pushing Parramatta officials to clear him for an NRL return for the past few weeks, but the club has taken a cautious approach to his recovery given his history.
The 26-year-old told NRL.com in 2018 how the lingering effects of a series of head knocks while playing for the Roosters saw him endure dizzy spells, light and noise sensitivity and sleeping 15-16 hours a day for the best part of two months, prompting the Eels to take every possible precaution with the gun back-rower.
Now after four weeks on the sidelines, Matterson is expected to get around an hour's game time for the Eels' reserve grade side against South Sydney on Saturday at Ringrose Park.
Matterson's latest head knock was the result of a heavy hit that saw Melbourne forward Felise Kaufusi suspended for two games, with Parramatta coach Brad Arthur reporting his second-rower is in good spirits and ready to return.
"He's definitely playing this week but he'll be playing Cup," Arthur said ahead of Friday's NRL clash against Brisbane in Darwin.
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"He'll get 60 minutes [on Saturday], avoided the travel, and this is the best way for him to come back.
"He bounced in on Tuesday, ready to go, and that was the most confident I've seen him.
"You can usually tell with body language, so I could tell he was ready to play.
"I told him what our plans were around playing reserve grade and he put his ego away and trained unreal."
Arthur plans to ease Matterson back into his first-grade side, potentially as early as next week's local derby against the Bulldogs.
Isaiah Papali'i's outstanding form as Matterson's starting replacements presents a selection conundrum of sorts, though the former Warrior said he will play whatever role needed by the high-flying Eels.
"I think I'll do whatever the team needs, BA is quite open and honest and every week is a new week," Papali'i said.
"I'll have to look at it again next week and see if [Matterson] is coming back and what the plan is for the team every round, there is a lot of depth in the team which is only a good thing.
"There is always competition for spots. "
Even with the luxury of top-notch replacements, Arthur insisted the club would not be taking any chances with bringing Matterson back before being absolutely certain his symptoms have subsided.
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"It's why we took the cautious approach," Arthur said.
"It was a nasty incident that happened to him and he's had a history of them.
"I'm all for the boys playing tough and getting out on the field not at 100 per cent but that's one area we won't run the gauntlet with.
"Soft tissue injuries you can play them at 80 percent of 90 percent, or a collision injury, but not with his head. We need to make sure he's 100 per cent.
"The club was on board with it and our doctors were right on board with it."
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