Manly have suffered a horror injury toll at the NRL Auckland Nines, with prop Jake Trbojevic and utility Jamie Buhrer ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
Trbojevic suffered a concussion in a sickening incident after copping a knee to the head by Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell.
Buhrer, just back from a long layoff with a torn ACL, is facing another big stint on the sidelines after suffering a suspected broken jaw.
Buhrer left the field early in the Sea Eagles’ second pool match on Saturday afternoon after copping a swinging arm from the Warriors’ Albert Vete.
Back-rower Nathan Green also suffered a concussion in a head clash while making a tackle in the second half of the same match but has been cleared of a concussion.
It leaves the Sea Eagles dangerously undermanned with just 15 fit players after Jorge Taufua was ruled out with a hamstring problem and the NRL blocked their attempt to replace him with Dylan Kelly.
Coach Trent Barrett said he was puzzled by the NRL’s decision to ban second-rower Kelly from coming into their squad.
Manly have been one of the early pacesetters on day one, with victories over Brisbane and Warriors, but could run out of fresh men on day two.
Asked if he had enough players, Barrett said: “Not really. Do you want to play?
“We’ll see how we go. We did bring another one in Dylan Kelly because we had a query over Jorge Taufua but the NRL have decided he’s not allowed to play which is odd.”
Trbojevic was taken from the ground in a medicab after Hurrell appeared to lift his knee while running the ball.
He returned to the bench in the second half and was walking around the dressing room and talking afterwards.
Trbojevic, standing in as Manly captain during the tournament, lay motionless on the turf for several minutes as he was attended to by medical staff.
Last year Hurrell was suspended for three weeks after breaking the jaw of Cronulla back-rower Anthony Tupou in a similar incident.
“I didn’t really have a look at it, I couldn’t comment, no one means to knock someone out,” Barrett said when asked about the incident.
Elsewhere, South Sydney winger Alex Johnston suffered a shoulder injury in his side’s tournament-opening win over the Roosters and did not take part in the side’s second match of the day.
However Rabbitohs doctors said the injury was minor and he had just stretched a muscle.
Tigers veteran Chris Lawrence suffered a hip problem but described it as “not serious”.
Parramatta flyer John Folau suffered a right hamstring problem and left the field in the side’s 14-11 win over the Roosters.