Wade Graham to end nine-month nightmare
Wade Graham is on the cusp of playing his first NRL match in nine months.
In a massive boost for the Sharks, Graham only needs to pass one final fitness test on Wednesday to be cleared for his comeback from a knee reconstruction against Parramatta on Saturday night at PointsBet Stadium.
What must feel like an eternity ago for the representative backrower, Graham was left shattered after his knee buckled during the Sharks qualifying final loss to eventual premiers the Roosters in September last year.
Following surgery to repair his torn anterior-cruciate ligament, the Cronulla co-captain spent his entire summer gripped by a painstaking and diligent rehabilitation program.
Over the past three months, Graham has steadily increased his running load, change of direction, speed and ability to handle collision.
From the outset, Graham had targeted a return date anywhere between rounds nine and 12.
The Sharks home game against the Eels is round 13.
The left-edge backrower has spent the past month back in full-training with the Sharks NRL squad, looking noticeably sharp in his combination with left-side halfback Chad Townsend.
In the process of being sidelined, Graham has also taken to sitting inside coach John Morris in the coaches box.
Providing there is no unexpected setback over the next 24 hours, Graham will be named Tuesday in Sharks coach John Morris' 21-man squad to tackle the Eels.
The inclusion of Graham would be an undeniable boost for the Sharks who have been beset by a shocking injury toll in 2019.
At one stage they had more than $3 million worth of talent on the sidelines.
The NSW Origin forward will also hand Morris a selection headache given the outstanding form of his bench forwards including Jack Williams, Braden Uele, Kurt Capewell, Blake Brailey and Jason Bukuya.
Graham's return would leave only playmaker Shaun Johnson (hamstring) and Test prop Aaron Woods (foot) unavailable for selection.
Like Graham, Johnson will also look to prove to the club's medical staff that he is worthy of inclusion in the Sharks side to face Parramatta.
The Kiwi international is progressing well and is expected to be considered for the Eels.
However, the Sharks have limited recovery time from the clash with Parramatta, playing five-days later against the Raiders in Canberra.
As such, Johnson may be held-back one more week to ensure his availability for a trip to the nation's capital.