Brett Morris will miss the first four months of the NRL season because of a knee injury.
The Canterbury fullback could also be sidelined for the entire State of Origin series after complications arising from a knee arthroscope on Monday meant surgery was required.
The 29-year-old has been struggling with the injury since midway through last season and was clearly hampered in the club’s semi-final loss to the Sydney Roosters.
News has progressively got worse for the NSW Origin representative, with a clean out leading to stem cells being inserted into his knee after the doctors found significant damage.
Originally it was believed Morris would only miss the opening four rounds of 2016 but the recovery time from Monday’s surgery means that layoff has now sky-rocketed.
Will Hopoate will likely play fullback in Friday night’s season-opener against Manly at Brookvale Oval, while recruit Brad Abbey is also likely to come into the 17.
Prop David Klemmer will already miss the match due to suspension.
The injury could also open the door for a return to State of Origin for Daniel Tupou, was who was dropped off the NSW wing in after the game in 2015 to make way for Morris’ return from a hamstring injury.