Kieran Foran is racing the clock to make his NRL comeback against the Gold Coast on Saturday after a freak injury caused him to be a late scratching against St George Illawarra.
The Warriors playmaker was withdrawn from Sunday’s loss to the Dragons at UOW Jubilee Oval just five minutes before kick-off after twinging his hamstring in the warm-up.
It has now been 301 days since Foran last set foot on an NRL field and he is battling to be fit to take on the Titans at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.
The former New Zealand international cut a distraught figure in the sheds following the 26-12 loss and will undergo assessment upon his return to Auckland on Monday.
“It would have been five minutes before they were about to run out,” coach Stephen Kearney said.
“He came into the sheds and felt a twinge at the top of his hamstring.
“You wouldn’t read about it. Under the circumstances it did throw us out a bit.”
Foran has not played since turning out for Parramatta’s round 12 clash against Newcastle last May and will face a nervous week in the lead-up to the Titans clash.
After being named in the starting line-up, he warmed up with the team but pulled up lame upon returning to the sheds before the side ran out.
It forced Kearney into a frantic reshuffle, with 18th man Blake Ayshford rushed into the starting side and forced to play 80 minutes for the second time in two days after turning out for the Warriors’ reserve grade side on Saturday.
Foran went into the game with all eyes trained on him following his tumultuous exit from Parramatta and time in a rehabilitation facility to address personal issues.
He received clearance from the NRL to return a week earlier but was held back from the side’s loss to Canterbury because of a shoulder injury.
The Warriors are desperate for a spark of inspiration following their 1-3 start and Foran’s return will be warmly welcomed.
Kearney said while early signs were positive, it was too early to know if he would be fit to take on the Titans.
“It’s too early to tell, he’s got pretty good strength in it,” Kearney said.
“He came in and it just didn’t feel 100 per cent right. Obviously it’s been a long layoff for him. The last thing we wanted to do was make it worse.”