NRL Rd 10 - Wests Tigers v Cowboys
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 15: Reuben Cotter of the Cowboys looks on during the round 10 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, on May 15, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten has all but confirmed Reuben Cotter will return this weekend against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Named amongst the reserves for the trip to Sydney on Tuesday afternoon, handing him a chance of returning, the Queensland State of Origin forward will be one week behind the originally predicted Round 19 schedule should he make it back onto the field this weekend.

Cotter injured himself the week after the opening State of Origin game during the warm-up, becoming a late exclusion from the Cowboys' game against Manly, and then being ruled out of the remainder of the Origin series.

Speaking after training on Friday, Payten said Cotter is a strong chance of playing.

"His likelihood of playing is good," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.

"He moved well in the first two sessions back with the team. Prior to that he was in the rehab group and running on his own.

"We got his volume up in that area, and he's really moving quick and has been game-specific for the past two days.

"Fingers crossed he will be right to go."

The Cowboys play the Dragons at 4:05pm (AEST) on Sunday afternoon, with teams to be cut to 19 on Saturday afternoon - which should all but confirm Cotter's participation in the game if he remains in the squad.

His return would likely be from the interchange bench, although he could also slot into the front row with Luciano Leilua moving back to the bench. Either Jamayne Taunoa-Brown or Griffin Neame would likely drop out of the side.

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