Manly coach Trent Barrett is counting the high cost of his side’s injury-plagued NRL Auckland Nines campaign.
Back-up hooker Jayden Hodges is expected to miss the NRL season after suffering an ACL injury while back-rower Jamie Buhrer could miss the first three rounds with a broken jaw.
As well, prop Jake Trbojevic (concussion) is set to miss his side’s trial matches.
And winger Tom Trbojevic sent a scare through the camp when he stayed down with an ankle injury but he was subsequently cleared of any major problems.
A frustrated Barrett was reduced to having just four men on the bench – down from the usual five – for his team’s quarter-final loss to Gold Coast.
Barrett said the toll from the two-day pre-season festival tournament had the potential to dent the Sea Eagles’ NRL season.
“It can have a huge impact on your season,” Barrett said.
“I think it’s a good advertisement for the game but for us it’s a massive risk.”
The NRL this year increased Nines squad sizes from 16 to 18 but Barrett called for sides to be allowed to carry emergency players for instances in which sides lose players through “foul play”.
Buhrer was injured when he copped a swinging arm from Warriors prop Albert Vete while Trbojevic suffered a knee in the head while making a tackle on Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell in the same game on Saturday.
Hurrell was not charged by the match review committee for the incident, which appeared similar to the one which earned him a three-match ban last season after Cronulla’s Anthony Tupou was left with a shattered jaw.
“It’s disappointing especially considering the fashion we lost those two blokes,” said Barrett.
“We had the knee to the head for Jake and the high tackle that broke Jamie’s jaw, we’ve lost players due to foul play.
“That puts pressure on the rest of the squad to play more minutes and that’s when you get injuries.
“We go on about player welfare and there seems to be little regard for player welfare in this case.”
The NRL on Saturday blocked Manly’s attempt to field replacement Dylan Kelly and Barrett blasted the governing body for not allowing them to bring in fresh troops.
The Sea Eagles only applied to bring in Kelly after the tournament had started and the NRL defended the decision not to allow them an extra squad member.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg ruled out giving the Sea Eagles special dispensation.
“There is no provision in the tournament rules for 19 players,” Greenberg said.
“All squads except Manly have brought 18 players and it would be unfair on those other clubs if an exception was made.”
Melbourne’s Cameron Munster suffered a suspected medial ligament injury against in the quarfter-finals and is expected to be out of action for 2-3 weeks.
INJURIES TO COME OUT OF THE NINES:
* Manly: Jamie Buhrer (broken jaw, six weeks); Jake Trbojevic (concussion, 2-3 weeks), Jayden Hodges (ACL, season), Nathan Green (head knock, scans)
* Melbourne: Cameron Munster (PCL, 2-3 weeks)
* South Sydney: Alex Johnson (shoulder, scans)
* Wests Tigers: Chris Lawrence (hip, scans)
* Parramatta: John Folau (hamstring, scans)
* Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (calf, scan), Solomone Kata (ankle, scans)