RUGBY LEAGUE: Injured Penrith star Josh Mansour has taken a major step in his NRL comeback from a knee reconstruction after commencing contact work at training.
Six months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Kangaroos duty during the Four Nations, Mansour joined his teammates for field sessions last week.
In good news for suffering Panthers fans, the incumbent NSW State of Origin winger is expected to return to the field in the two weeks.
"He's been with us for a couple of weeks now and just trying to build his confidence up around the team. He's been itching to get on the field lately," Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard said.
"It's been tough for him, staying indoors not around our teammates. He's looking really good at the moment.
"He's still got a couple more weeks away from training but he's flying."
The pre-season title favourites, who have struggled without their left winger, currently sit in 15th spot with just two wins from nine games, ahead of Saturday's home clash against the Warriors.
Mansour had previously pencilled in a return for round 12.
Teammate Leilani Latu said Mansour's mere presence on the training paddock has given the playing roster a lift following a disappointing start to the season.
"He's a good character and is a massive team morale boost. Everywhere he comes with us, whether on a trip, in the gym or out on the field, he's an awesome bloke to have," Latu said.
"He's the ultimate professional, ultimate individual when it comes to performance.
"He hasn't skipped anything, hasn't taken any shortcuts with anything. He's taken everything the physios have given him, and we're just seeing the full benefits now of him coming back."
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