The Newcastle Knights are still counting the cost of Sunday’s bruising 22-13 loss to the St George-Illawarra Dragons at McDonald Jones Stadium.
According to NRL.com reporter Brett Keeble, coach Adam O’Brien will struggle to name 21 healthy players to tackle the Gold Coast Titans this weekend.
Playmakers Mitchell Pearce, Kurt Mann and Tex Hoy all suffered injuries as did in-form front-rower David Klemmer.
Already, the Knights are without Kalyn Ponga (shoulder), Bradman Best (elbow), Edrick Lee (foot) and Lachlan Fitzgibbon (shoulder).
Experienced halfback Pearce could be sidelined for several months after leaving the field in tears in the 25th minute nursing a suspected torn pectoral muscle.
Hoy, Keeble said, is expected to miss up to four games with a torn hamstring and Mann was heavily-concussed – and unlikely to play against the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday 10 April.
Klemmer, who was reported for two incidents in the first half, will have scans on a knee injury.
Back-up five-eighth Phoenix Crossland is also sidelined and teenage centre Dominic Young limped from the field in Newcastle’s NSW Cup victory.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to name 21 [on Tuesday],” O’Brien said after the match.
“Naming the team is probably going to be a real big hurdle this week.”
Ponga met with his shoulder surgeon last week and was close to playing against the Dragons but O’Brien said he resisted that temptation and erred on the side of caution.
“We’re hopeful for KP [against the Titans] but if he’s not right, he’s not right,” he stated.
“I won’t rush him.
“We’re round four, and it’s pretty much carnage for us tonight.
“So, I don’t need to add to that by making rash decisions now.”
The one positive for the Knights was the return of Blake Green, who played 30 minutes off the bench.