Canterbury have suffered a massive blow ahead of the NRL finals with hooker Michael Lichaa ruled out for the rest of the season.
Scans on Monday confirmed the Bulldogs rake will require season-ending surgery on his right leg and ankle after being injured in Sunday’s win over Gold Coast.
Lichaa limped from the field in just the fourth minute and failed to return.
“Scans revealed a fracture, and with surgery now required, Lichaa will not be able to recover in time before season’s end,” the club said in a statement.
In his first season at the club, the former Cronulla No. 9 had yet to miss a game and quickly established himself as an integral member of the side.
And with utility Josh Reynolds still another three weeks away from returning due to injury, coach Des Hasler will now be forced to call on NSW Cup rake Damien Cook for Friday night’s grand final rematch against South Sydney.
The 24-year-old back-up hooker has yet to play this year and hasn’t appeared in the NRL since round 17 last season.
The former St George-Illawarra No. 9 has played just four games in his career.
“Damien Cook has been doing a great job in (reserve grade) and he’s just been waiting, waiting for his opportunity,” Hasler said.
“He’ll step into the fray and he’ll handle it.”
With three rounds to go, the Bulldogs are in seventh place on the NRL ladder on 26 points, but are fighting with the Dragons (24) and a surging Manly (24) to stay there.
The Rabbitohs have hooking problems of their own with Issac Luke sidelined for at least a week due to suspension.