Warriors recruit Kieran Foran's shoulder injury could jeopardise his highly anticipated NRL return against the Canterbury Bulldogs next week, but the club remain optimistic that he'll be in action sooner rather than later.
Foran underwent shoulder surgery late last year and the injury is taking longer than expected to heal, however the Warriors denied reports he could be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
The 26-year-old is eligible to play his first game for the Warriors in next Friday's clash against the Bulldogs in Dunedin, pending a further psychological assessment by the NRL.
Warriors managing director Jim Doyle is confident Foran's recovery is going to plan. But if the playmaker is not ready to take the field at Forsyth Barr Stadium, he anticipates Foran will be ready by round five.
"He's got a big week this week and next week doing full contact training," said Doyle. "But we'll see how he goes over the next few days and then we'll see how he goes early next week.
"But if it's not round three it could probably be round four. It's certainly not going to be round eight or nine.
"He had an arthroscope a few weeks ago because it was progressing well but he still had a little bit of pain.
"It was really positive, everything was on track and there were no issues in there. It's given him a lot of peace of mind and it's certainly been improving since then."
The Warriors are desperate to have Foran available and although he's previously shown a willingness and ability to push his body, Doyle confirmed he will not be rushed back.
"He's a very tough kid who can play through (pain) and he has done in the past. It will be partly his decision but it will be partly the medical team's decision as well."
Ahead of Friday's round two clash against Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium, coach Stephen Kearney denied the near constant media reports about Foran were proving a distraction for his side.
"Not at all," he said. "We understand the process that he's going through.
"I don't give it any energy. When it (Foran's return) arises we'll deal with it, but the focus is just making sure that we're getting ourselves in the best spot possible to play as well as we can."
Kearney is confident both vice-captain Simon Mannering (neck) and front-rower Charlie Gubb (concussion) will be fit to play on Friday, and a final call on hooker Issac Luke (ribs) will be made after tomorrow's captain's run.
Mannering and Luke both trained well today and Gubb has progressed through two post-concussion tests without any issues, with a final assessment to complete tomorrow.