Luckless Newcastle NRL back-rower Robbie Rochow will be sidelined for up to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken arm for the second time in less than a year.
On a tough Thursday for the winless Knights, centre Sione Mata’utia was also ruled out of Sunday’s clash with the Wests Tigers due to concussion.
The off-contract Rochow, reportedly in negotiations with a number of NRL clubs including the Knights, fractured his right arm earlier on Thursday in a contact session.
His injury is just another major blow for coach Nathan Brown, who had been looking to play the 25-year-old in the centres against the Tigers in place of Mata’utia.
Rookie Jaelyn Feeney is expected to take his place.
“Saw the specialist and it’s a stable fracture in my forearm at the top of the plate that I have in there. Feels ok and I have full movement,” Rochow said on Twitter.
“Going to get the plate taken out today and let it heal from there. A bit frustrating but hopefully back out there soon.”
Rochow’s 2015 season ended after breaking the same arm against Brisbane in round 16, in what was just his second game since returning from a back problem. He played just five games for the season.
His absence is just the latest in what is a bulging casualty ward for coach Brown.
Prop Kade Snowden, who hasn’t played since round one, remains out indefinitely as he continues to battle a back problem that threatens to derail his season.
The Knights could make a number of changes from the side named by Brown on Tuesday, with Nathan Ross (elbow), Jake Mamo (ankle) and Danny Levi (back) all facing late fitness tests.
Jacob Saifiti is likely to be re-inserted into the starting line-up against the Tigers, with twin brother David a chance to take his place on the bench.
The game also marks the season debut of co-captain Tariq Sims after completing a five-match suspension.