The Prime Minister's thirteen is facing somewhat of a hooker crisis with South Sydney recruit Craig Wing ruled out of Sunday's match against Papua New Guinea due to injury.
Wing is set to undergo surgery on both a calf and knee complaint in the coming weeks, ruling him out of this weekend's trip to Port Moresby as well as the October 14 Test against New Zealand.
Wing's unavailability leaves Australian selectors with few options at dummy half with fellow hookers Robbie Farah and Danny Buderus also injured. North Queensland's Aaron Payne and Parramatta's Mark Riddell are still involved in the finals and are out of contention.
Meanwhile, at the judiciary, North Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston will contest a one-match ban on Wednesday night in a bid to play against Manly in Saturday's grand final qualifier.
In an ironic twist, Thurston will be represented at the hearing by Manly Leagues Club board member and barrister Geoff Bellew. The Test number seven was charged with a grade one dangerous throw by the NRL's match review committee yesterday.
Thurston says he'll be devastated if he misses the Sydney Football Stadium clash.
Elsewhere, Manly coach Des Hasler says he will give injured players Glenn Stewart and Chris Hicks as much time as possible to prove their fitness for Saturday's preliminary final against North Queensland.
Both Stewart and Hicks are in doubt for the match due to ankle injuries and missed the Sea Eagles' training session today. Veteran backrower Steve Menzies also missed the session as he's ill with a virus but Hasler is confident he will recover in time to play.
Manly have received a boost ahead of the clash with prop Brent Kite returning to full training after recovering from a groin injury which kept him out of the qualifying final win over South Sydney.Like