Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is unsure when Manu Vatuvei will return to first grade action - but it may not be as early as next week.
Vatuvei is currently still on medical leave, after the `gang of six' saga involving prescription drug abuse and energy drinks two weeks ago. The other five players - Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete and Konrad Hurrell - are back, though the latter trio will turn out this weekend for the NSW Cup side.
"Manu is a week by week case," said McFadden. "He has been dealing with things and hopefully he is back soon It's been a tough couple of weeks for [him] - he's a legend of our club, he's made a mistake and it [has] hurt him."
McFadden added that any decision on Vatuvei's comeback to NRL would be a "mutual" one.
Captain Ryan Hoffman agreed there was "no rush" on a Vatuvei return, but was confident the winger will be able to find the kind of form that has notched more than 150 NRL tries.
"When he is right and everyone is in agreement I'm sure he is going to come back and play like the fantastic player that he is," said Hoffman. "He has been [training] at the club all week [and is] looking good on the football side of things. [But] he knows when he will be right to play again and there is no rush."
The encouraging form of David Fusitua may make it hard for McFadden, who also rates the stability that Johnathan Wright provides. But Vatuvei has been a first choice pick at Mt Smart for a decade - across numerous coaches - and there is no sign of that changing.
His 2016 season was interrupted by injury before the recent scandal, but he still put in several impressive performances.
Meanwhile, Hoffman feels Saturday's game in Christchurch is an opportunity to grab some momentum, after the positive result against St George-Illawarra before the representative weekend.
"At this time of the year you need to build momentum where ever you can, leading into the next bye," said Hoffman.
"I like the positive feel in the club but it comes down to what we do on the field. We responded well in the Dragons game but that is done now - we have to move on to the Panthers [today]. It's a great challenge."