HAVING been best man at a wedding in Bali on the weekend Paul Carter will return to Cessnock's 17-man squad for a shot at making the Newcastle Rugby League grand final, but Goannas coach Todd Edwards remains unsure where to field the versatile player.
Cessnock, chasing their first appearance in a decider since 2014 and first premiership since 2003, travel to meet Central at St John Oval in Sunday's preliminary final with Edwards still to settle on how to maximise Carter's impact.
"He flies in tomorrow [Wednesday] and he'll come back into the squad, but I don't know where," Edwards told the Newcastle Herald.
"He's played nine, 13, six and back-row for us this year. Most recently on the edge. I just don't know whether I'll start him or not because he is so versatile and can play so many positions. And the other boys have come in and done a good job."
Carter wore the No.12 jersey in must-win affairs against Souths (18-14) in the last round and Maitland (14-10) in the elimination semi-final on August 31, but the former NRL player was overseas for Saturday's minor semi triumph over defending champions Souths (32-28) at Cessnock.
Goannas veteran Dan Metcalf was Carter's replacement and played 70 minutes.
Joe Bromage (thumb) and Marvin Filipo, both potentially returning from longer term injuries, were listed on Tuesday in Cessnock's extended 20-man squad.
"Unfortunately at least one [player] will have to miss out, but I don't know who that will be at this stage," Edwards said. "Whatever way we go will be for the best balance of the squad."
Central coach Phil Williams said "it would be a miracle" if Mitch Williams (ribs) and Luke Harragon (knee) played this weekend having sustained injuries at either end of Sunday's 50-10 major semi loss to grand final bound Western Suburbs at Harker Oval.
Williams came off in the opening five minutes and Harragon was due to see a specialist on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in open grade Kurri Kurri's Justin Peterkin remains in doubt for this weekend having been charged with a low-grade headbutt by the Newcastle RL match review committee.
The Bulldogs are due to play against Maitland in Sunday's open grade preliminary final at Charlestown but Peterkin, who was put on report in the 36th minute of an 8-0 loss to Wests, faces one match on the sidelines if he enters an early guilty plea.
Souths' Darcy Bartlett-Baldwin (open grade) and Kurri's Lachlan Macbeth (reserve grade) could each be suspended for three-to-six games in 2020 having copped high-grade charges for a high tackle and striking respectively in season-ending losses on the weekend.