Ben Daley’s latest long-term injury is not a career-ender, according to Queensland Reds interim co-coach Matt O’Connor.
Having just recovered from off-season shoulder surgery, Daley is set to miss the next four months after tearing his pectoral muscle in the loss to the Melbourne Rebels at the weekend.
Daley went under the knife this week to repair the injury and unless the Reds can somehow conjure up a surprise finals appearance, his 2016 Super Rugby campaign is likely over, just three rounds in.
The former Wallaby prop has not put together anything close to a full season since 2012, with his last few years blighted by a string of breaks, tears and dislocations.
This fresh setback raises question marks over his durability at the elite level but O’Connor is confident the 27-year-old can bounce back.
“He was outstanding for us throughout the pre-season,” he said.
“He came off the bench last week and gave us a hell of a lot.
“For him to be out for an extended period is incredibly disappointing for the group and for him.
“It’s the nature of the game unfortunately. (But) he’s a pretty resilient character and I’m sure he’ll come back bigger and better than ever.”
The Reds have drafted Pettowa Paraka onto the bench as Daley’s replacement for Saturday night’s home encounter with the Blues, and O’Connor said it was a big plus to be able to call upon a player who already has established combinations with the rest of the forward pack courtesy of the National Rugby Championship.
Reds captain James Slipper (shoulder) is nearing a return, having re-joined group training this week, and could be back as early as April 9 against the Highlanders.
Queensland host the NSW Waratahs next weekend and then have the bye before meeting the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium.
Liam Gill (back) could also be ready for the Highlanders game, if not sooner, as the Reds prepare to attempt to talk their star flanker out of a move to France next season.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said on Wednesday he will try and convince Gill to abandon his contract with Toulon and stay in Australia so he can compete for the vacancy that will be left by David Pocock’s rugby sabbatical.
Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Faingaa, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Jake Schatz, Waita Setu, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons (capt), Caderyn Neville. Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, Sef Faagase. Reserves: Matt Mafi, Pettowa Paraka, Sam Talakai, Ben Matwijow, Curtis Browning, Scott Gale , Sam Greene, Ayumu Goromaru