STEVE Sansom is expected to make a shock return for Old Bar in Sunday's Group Three Rugby League grand final against Wauchope at Wauchope.
It appeared Sansom's season was over when he broke his finger in a training mishap the Friday before the major semi-final. He missed that match and last weekend's epic win by Old Bar over Forster-Tuncurry in the final. However, he has declared himself fit and will play with the aid of a pain killing injection.
Sansom played fullback towards the end of the season-proper but could start at lock if prop Kyle Cochrane was unsuccessful in having charges downgraded when he appeared before the Group Three judiciary last night.
Old Bar coach Jason Morrissey said centre Aaron Bayley could be another starter.
He's been out since the second round game against Wauchope when he injured an arm. However, Bayley trained earlier this week and is expected to be passed fit.
"We could have a couple of others back, too,'' Morrissey said, without giving too much away.
However, he said halfback Daniel Harris is 'no chance'. Harris broke a bone in his wrist in the major semi. It's also unlikely interchange forward Michael Spence will be available.
Old Bar's last trip to Wauchope finished in disaster when the Pirates were flogged 52-6 in the major semi. But Morrissey said that's ancient history now and said the preparation for this week was much smoother than a fortnight ago.
"We lost one of our best players on the Friday night at training and another one on Saturday,'' he pointed out.
"We were never going to win that one. But this will be different.
"We're the underdogs, there's no doubt about that.''
Morrissey sees similarities in this game with the 2011 grand final won by Forster-Tuncurry over favourites Port City.
"Wauchope hasn't played a lot of football in the last month - just like the Breakers that year,'' he said.
"Nothing beats playing.''
Morrissey recalls it was a hot day for the 2011 decider and Sunday promises to be similar.
"Wauchope better bring the shield with them on Sunday, just in case it's needed for the presentation,'' he added.