Under-siege Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor will be forced to rely on a third-string hooking option for the opening rounds of the NRL season, after Robbie Farah was struck down with a knee injury.
Farah will undergo scans on Tuesday, but is set to join Tigers recruit Matt Ballin (knee) on the sidelines for up to the first month of the season.
The NSW No.9 suffered the injury in Saturday night’s trial 30-all draw with Cronulla.
Farah left Campbelltown Stadium in the first half and didn’t return.
Manaia Cherrington and Tigers under-20s rake and former Australian schoolboy Jacob Liddle played at hooker in the second half in Farah’s absence.
Farah’s fallout with Taylor has dominated headlines in the off season, but it will now mean little over the opening rounds.
Ballin is likely to miss the opening two months of the season as he continues his recovery from an ACL tear.
More will be known about Farah on Tuesday, but early indications are he could be out for around a month.
Taylor has indicated he is keen to play two hookers in 2016 despite the reduction in interchanges.
That could mean he is forced to use Cherrington and Liddle or Cherrington and utility Dene Halatau in the dummy half position early on.
The Tigers host the Warriors on Saturday March 5 at Campbelltown Stadium to open their season.
After a forgettable 2015, Taylor will be under pressure early to produce results in order to keep his job.