St George Illawarra have been struck a major blow with halves hopeful Drew Hutchison set to miss most of the 2017 NRL season with a serious knee injury.
Hutchison had been favoured to partner Gareth Widdop in the halves next year following Benji Marshall’s exit, however looks set to spend significant time on the sidelines after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The club said he was set to miss a lion’s share of 2017 but he could be forced to miss the entire season.
He will require surgery after going down at training on Thursday in a big setback for Paul McGregor’s men.
“Drew had undertaken a simple ballwork drill and there was a collision amongst some of the players involved and, unfortunately, his foot got caught in the ground,” Dragons head of performance Nathan Pickworth said.
“With the forces that were applied to his body at the time, Drew’s knee got put into a vulnerable position which resulted in the ACL rupture.
“He has since undergone scans which have confirmed the injury and we have already spoken to a number of surgeons.”
The 21-year-old appeared destined set to wear the Dragons’ No.7 jersey after being used ahead of Marshall during this year’s second-last round of the regular season.
He was instrumental in guiding the Illawarra Cutters to the NSW Cup and Interstate Championship titles and, in October, spoke of his desire to step up to the NRL next year.
“To be honest, there’s little things in my game I need to work on and I’ll be working on that in the pre-season,” he said.
“I’m hoping for a big year in 2017 and it’s all up to me.”
It throws McGregor’s plans into disarray, with former Canberra player Josh McCrone and recuit Shaun Nona shaping as back-up options.
It’s the second injury blow for the Dragons in a fortnight after luckless prop Mose Masoe had undergone surgery on his right knee, ruling him out indefinitely.