Tom Trbojevic won’t get a final State of Origin audition after his NRL return turned into a nightmare, injuring his shoulder as Manly were thumped 42-24 by Gold Coast.
In his first game back since tearing his hamstring three months ago, Trbojevic lasted just 63 minutes before succumbing to a shoulder injury that needed scans.
The 23-year-old bravely fought on after trying to make a last-line-of-defence tackle on AJ Brimson, before leaving the field nine minutes later.
Scans late on Saturday night ruled out the need for surgery or any rotator cuff damage, but instead showed posterior shoulder injury.
“He probably thought he could work it off a little, but at that stage there was no point persisting,” Manly coach Des Hasler said.
“It was probably best to get him off.”
Manly later confirmed he would not play the Warriors next Sunday.
It means Trbojevic’s 63 minutes will be all NSW coach Brad Fittler will have to judge the superstar fullback on, after not taking to the field since mid-June.
He looked particularly rusty at the back, with two of his four errors coming after the shoulder blow.
His presence in attack helped Manly score one try as he drew in two defenders off the ball, while he also helped chase down Titans flyer Treymain Spry Sprei to deny him a 90-metre intercept try.
But on other occasions his lay off showed, failing to shadow a grubber dead to allow Kevin Proctor to score and fumbling a poor Tevita Funa pass in the lead up to another Titans try.
Regardless, Manly were completely outplayed by a Gold Coast side who put on their equal-highest score in their 14-year history.
The Titans have now won four straight for the first time since 2014, and are ninth on the ladder after being tipped by most to collect the wooden spoon.
Brimson bagged a double, including an 80-metre effort that left referee Matt Noyen with an injured hamstring after Young Tonumaipea found his fullback from a 20-metre tap.
Tonumaipea also claimed a brace, making the most of a 60-metre intercept from Corey Thompson for his second.
Thompson finished the game off with a hamstring injury after earlier scoring one of his own, while hooker Mitch Rein suffered a badly damaged eye socket.
Sam Stone and Spry scored the Titans’ others, as they went from 6-0 down to 42-12 leaders.
“I was really proud of everything we did in the first half,” coach Justin Holbrook said.
“To end up with a pretty dominant win today I am really happy to make it four in a row.
“And we probably left a couple out there too.”
The result means Manly will finish the year with just one win from seven games at Lottoland, making for their worst winning percentage at the ground in history.