Just when Manly thought their horror 2016 couldn’t get any worse, centre Steve Matai has been ruled out for the rest of the NRL season with a neck injury.
With the club’s injury ward already bursting, Matai will be forced to undergo neck surgery after making just eight appearances for the club this year.
The Sea Eagles have been battered from all angles, the match-fixing saga and feud with sponsor Coco Joy proving unwanted distractions, while Matai joins fellow stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Jamie Lyon on the injured list.
“We are confident that Steve will make a full recovery and be ready for pre-season training in 2017,” coach Trent Barrett said.
“It is devastating for Steve and certainly not ideal for our team. He has been an integral part of Manly’s success for a long time.
“He is one of our leaders. He is a tough man. We are confident by undergoing this surgery, it will prolong his career.”
The Sea Eagles have been big underperforming this year, in 13th spot after a 4-8 start.
Cherry-Evans is expected to be sidelined for a month with an ankle injury while Lyon will miss a fortnight with the same problem.
Injury-plagued prop Brenton Lawrence was also this week ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured pec, joining Jayden Hodges (ACL, season) on the long-term injured list.
“Steve’s injury is just another test for us,” Barrett said.
“It has been challenging, particularly given the lack of availability of senior players in extremely important positions.
“All we can do is stick together and keep working hard.”