Injured Hawks forward Dan Jackson is eyeing a return in time for next week's crucial road double against New Zealand and Townsville.
Jackson has sat out the past two matches with a calf injury - the first time he has missed games because of injury in his six-year career.
Wollongong face a tough round 15, taking on reigning champions New Zealand on Thursday before flying from Auckland to Townsville for a Saturday night clash with the Crocodiles.
Jackson is steadily recovering but is still unable to break into a sprint.
If he is ruled out next week, the 24-year-old is confident of being available for the January 26 home game against New Zealand.
"I'm not too sure if I'll be right to play next week because I haven't done anything more than about 50 or 60 per cent," Jackson said shortly before the Hawks hosted Cairns last night.
"I'm still just jogging and every time I try and go any quicker than that, it's been pretty uncomfortable.
"It's definitely feeling better and it just depends on how it responds next week early in practice.
Jackson suffered the injury at training on the day before the Hawks played Melbourne on New Year's Eve.
"I penetrated down the lane and stopped and got up on my toes, and I felt it go straight away," he said.
"We were pretty low on numbers at practice so I kept trying to go, but then as practice wore on I knew it didn't feel right.
"I had an ultrasound and they found a small tear in the tissue in between the calf muscle, which can be a good thing because you find with torn calf muscles that they've got a higher re-injury rate.
"What I've actually done, it should heal a bit better.
"We've got everybody else back from injury so it's not like I have to rush back and run that risk of re-injuring it. We've got Timmy [Coenraad] and Larry [Davidson] back, so we've got more size on the boards. I can make sure I look after it and get it completely right."
■ Click on www.illawarramercury.com.au for the all the action from last night's Hawks-Taipans clash.