Northland loose forward Dan Pryor could make his return to the professional rugby scene against Taranaki at Toll Stadium on Sunday.
After dislocating an elbow in the 61st minute of the Highlanders Super Rugby qualifier against the Chiefs in June, his presence in the Taniwha loose forward trio has been sorely missed throughout the opening rounds of the ITM Cup.
Playing his cards right over the last few months, head coach Richie Harris says there's a good chance Pryor will be deemed fit to play when the Northland playing-23 is named later today.
"It's highly likely Danny Pryor will be back," Harris said. "He's ticked through training pretty well."
Under the pump in the injury department this season, the Taniwha have lacked depth in key areas, and while Pryor's return could spur on the effort of his teammates to secure their first win, Harris suggested he wouldn't take over the captaincy duties right away. "I think Matty will stay there," Harris said of the leadership status that hooker Matt Moulds has solidified through the last three games and the pre-season. With the possibility of loose forward Pryor returning this weekend, Northland will be without the services of another loose forward, Shane Neville, who picked up a calf strain during the week.
Another Super Rugby player waiting in the wings for his return from injury is first five-eighth Dan Bowden.
Nursing a groin and foot injury, Bowden has been on the sideline for four months, but Harris said his return could come next weekend if he wasn't ready for Taranaki.