Price on the mend

Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price is set to return to NRL action as early as the July 23 clash against Canberra, five games ahead of schedule. The 31-year-old said a visit to his specialist Barry Tietjens on Wednesday gave him a promising progress report on his knee ligament surgery. "He was really, really happy with my progress," Price said. "I negotiated hard with him about coming back as early as possible. "I have to see him again in two weeks with a view to hopefully being cleared to return for the game at home against the Canberra Raiders. Hopefully I won't have any problems at training from now on and everything will go well. "I'll be getting into some contact-type training and more speed running as well." Price said he had tried to kid Tietjens into letting him play against his old Bulldogs team-mates until Tietjens discovered just how soon that was - this Sunday. It has been a difficult week for the veteran. His latest knee injury kept him out of the last two matches of this year's State of Origin series including Wednesday night's decider in Brisbane. It has also prevented him lining up for his new club against his old team for the first time. Price needed medial ligament surgery after injurying his right knee trying to charge down a kick by Wests Tigers scrumhalf Scott Prince on May 29. He was originally told he would be out for up to 12 weeks, leaving him free to potentially play just once more during the regulation season (against Manly in round 25). This week's update now has him on target to return so early he could to play in the Vodafone Warriors' last six matches against Canberra, Penrith, Parramatta, Melbourne, Newcastle and Manly. It's a significant boost to the club's bid to make the top eight play-offs.