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Bennett unsure of Greg Inglis' NRL return

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett admits "the signs aren't good" for Greg Inglis and is unsure whether his star will return to the NRL.

While still hopeful of having him back next week, Bennett said not even surgery would heal the chronic shoulder issue his skipper is now facing.

Asked whether Inglis would keep playing, Bennett said on Friday: "I don't know that. I don't know why he should or shouldn't. I mean, it's something for him to decide.

"That's why he's away for now, to get himself out of the bubble that we all live in and get a bit of reality in life."

Bennett has been in regular contact with Inglis - who will miss his third straight match - since giving him this week off to assess his long-term future.

He confirmed the 32-year-old struggles with arthritis in his left shoulder and can't lift it above his head or away from his body.

He also likened it to former Brisbane centre Jack Reed, who was forced into retirement three years ago due to a similar issue.

"It flares up and it goes from bad to good to worse. (It's) unpredictable, all over the shop with it," Bennett said of Inglis' shoulder problems.

"At the moment he can't raise it above his head or a little away from his body as he tries to raise it. The signs aren't good.

"Surgery won't fix it. That's the issue - a bit like Jack Reed at the Broncos when I was there. He had similar type problems."

Bennett suggested that, while Inglis grapples with the reality of his body betraying him, the former Kangaroos star could still be effective for the club.

"That's all elite athletes' challenge in life: How long you can maintain that level of excellence?" Bennett said.

"And when it starts to dwindle, how you handle that and how (can) you make some changes."

He compared it to a 100-metre sprinter whose best time was ten seconds, but is now running at 10.6.

"But in a team game, it's a whole different scenario because they don't have to be able to run the ten seconds later in their careers," Bennett said.

"They bring other things, so you can live with that."

© AAP 2019