Tom Trbojevic’s State of Origin hopes hang in the balance after Manly declared his club season over with a fresh shoulder injury.
Trbojevic’s long-awaited NRL comeback from a hamstring injury ended in tears when he lasted just 63 minutes before heading up the tunnel in pain.
The superstar fullback was hurt trying to stop Gold Coast No.1 AJ Brimson, leaving him clutching his shoulder with his arm dangling by his side in the 42-24 loss.
Scans late on Saturday night ruled out the need for surgery with no rotator cuff damage or shoulder instability.
But there is an issue with his posterior shoulder, meaning he won’t play in the final round against the Warriors.
And while it means he will likely be fit come November 4 for the Origin opener in Adelaide, he’d enter the series with just over an hour of football since June if picked.
It comes after he also missed 14 games through injury last season, through to hamstring blows and a pectoral tear.
“It’s devastating,” his brother Jake told Fox League.
“He has had such a hard run the past few years. It’s so frustrating for him.
“Being his big brother I can see how hard it is for him. I hope he is okay.
“He’d be so disappointed for today, he just loves his football.”
NSW coach Brad Fittler had previously said he was prepared to pick Trbojevic in his 27-man squad off two matches.
Meanwhile the blow summed up the Sea Eagles’ sorry season.
When Trbojevic went down with his hamstring injury in round six, Manly were genuine top-four contenders and considered dark horses for the competition.
Since then they have won just three of their past 13 while their defensive record is the worst of any Des Hasler coached side in 15 years.
“It’s tough. We get a lot of confidence from having him on the field,” Jake said.
“Back in round six when we beat Canberra we were on top of the world … We lost Tom for 12 weeks and our season went backwards.
“He gives us so much confidence. Having him back today it was a really good feel, everyone knows how hard he works. It’s devastating.”