Tom Trbojevic’s shoulder injury was “heartbreaking” for not only Manly, but also the New South Wales Origin side and all rugby league fans.
The superstar fullback suffered the injury while making a try-saving tackle in his side’s 22-20 loss to the Eels on Friday and left the field with his arm in makeshift sling.
Manly coach Des Hasler confirmed after the game that Trbojevic had dislocated his shoulder and while he didn’t want to speculate on a return date before getting scans, it’s feared the 25-year-old will miss the State of Origin opener on June 6.
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But before Origin comes into the frame, one thing is certain — Tommy Turbo will miss games for his beloved Sea Eagles.
While the time is never right for an injury, Michael Ennis spoke about how Trbojevic was really starting to find his best form again after a clunky start to the season when the injury hit.
“A killer blow, he was tremendous and he was really starting to warm, Tom,” he said,
“His acceleration was back, he looked confident with his catch-and-pass and true to Tommy’s style he’s hurt his shoulder while (making) a desperation tackle to stop Parramatta scoring.
“It’s heartbreaking, not only for Manly but also Blues fans.
“It didn’t look great at all, his arm sitting in a sling. He’s so important to this Manly side and so important to the NSW side.
“Some of our champion players are brutally honest with themselves.
“Leading into this game tonight, Tom was really open about how disappointed he was with his own form and how he needed to pick that up.
“Tonight he was moving a lot free-er, it was really good signs, he was moving really well, he wasn’t grimacing and in that second half I felt like Tom was really starting to find his rhythm until we see these devastating pictures.
“I mean it really is (devastating). Everyone that loves rugby league, loves what Tom does on the footy field. He’s a player that, whether you love Manly or hate them, you love what he brings. He’s a guy that brings people through the gates.
“Really tough scenes seeing Tommy leave the field like that tonight, he’s a super player.”
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Benji Marshall battled shoulder injuries during his 19-year career and gave an insight into what Trbojevic could face.
“Given he’s dislocated it, usually there’s an opportunity to rehab it and get some strength back, which takes four-to-six weeks,” he said.
“But the problem is, the chances of recurring are increased with that so that’s a risk you have to be prepared to take.
“Hopefully for Turbo he can do that for the next six weeks and come back but if it’s worst news and it’s completely ruptured it’s surgery and you’re potentially out for the season.”
Origin teams are set to be announced following Round 12 and no doubt Trbojevic’s injury will cause even more headaches for Blues coach Brad Fittler, who is already dealing with Latrell Mitchell’s hamstring injury.
Marshall and Ennis had some suggestions for who could come into the centres if Trbojevic is ruled out of Game 1.
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“(Stephen) Crichton has put his hand up, Kotoni Staggs and Jack Wighton could do a job there if needed,” Marshall said.
“It’s a tough one because Latrell Mitchell’s not going to be there at the moment, it is a bit early but maybe no Turbo.”
“You’d imagine that Liam Martin is going to be somewhere around the NSW side,” Ennis added.
“We know Nathan and Jarome are going to be there as halves providing they get through the next couple of weeks. Combinations are critical, Brian To’o was enormous last week… someone like Matt Burton, who one a premiership at left centre with those Penrith boys would fit in there no problems.
“There’s plenty of guys that would be capable but Tom’s blue chip… Tom dominates at that level.”