Injury factor huge influence in run-in
Wednesday 1 August 2012 12:58 PM
With the heat turned up in the chase for top eight spots, the absence of injured players will again have a profound influence on most games this weekend, no more so than for the Vodafone Warriors and Cronulla in their critical 22nd-round NRL match-up at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (2.00pm kick-off local time).
The Vodafone Warriors, 12th on the table but only two points outside the top eight, take on the seventh-placed Sharks with both teams battling recently to find winning form while coping with the effects of missing injured players.
The Vodafone Warriors still have two of their most experienced players – Jerome Ropati and Sam Rapira – doing long-term service on the injured list, Ropati out for the season with a knee injury and Rapira out until the final round of the regular season with a triceps problem.
With them for the second week running is the club’s captain Simon Mannering, the team missing both his inestimable ability and his 164 appearances in the NRL. To those three add fullback Glen Fisiiahi, hooker Alehana Mara and boom rookie centre Konrad Hurrell as well as Vodafone Junior Warriors utility Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
Veteran back rower Micheal Luck is out of the casualty ward this weekend but, after returning for just two NRL appearances in June, he’ll make his comeback this time by turning out for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup on Saturday. Instead of the typical game day buzz on the NRL stage, the 30-year-old Luck will play in a far more modest setting against Wentworthville on Mount Smart Stadium’s No 2 ground (1.00pm kick-off local time).
Add it all up and the Vodafone Warriors will compete with Cronulla while missing a total of almost 700 games in NRL experience.
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan yesterday named a side excluding a handful of regulars still listed as injured although tipped to return soon.
In-form loose forward Wade Graham was targeted to return from a sternum complaint this week but is now slated to come back next week; prop Bryce Gibbs has a shoulder injury which will evidently keep him out of the clash against the Vodafone Warriors; fullback Nathan Gardner (knee), centre Ben Pomeroy (groin) and prop Josh Cordoba (knee) are also ruled out. All five missed last weekend’s 20-21 loss to Penrith as did playmaker Todd Carney.
Carney has been named this week but the others account 500-plus NRL games between them.
With five rounds to go in the regular season, a number of other teams are similarly affected, only the Sydney Roosters reporting no injuries.
NRL CASUALTY WARD
DRAGONS: Jamie Soward (back)/Nick Emmett (back) – indefinite; Beau Scott (groin) – Rd 23; Matt Cooper (hamstring) – Rd 24; Kyle Stanley (knee)/Michael Weyman (ACL) – season.
STORM: Matt Duffie (shoulder) – Rd 26; Justin O’Neill (not supplied).
PANTHERS: Blake Austin (shoulder)/Harry Siejka (shoulder) – season; Nathan Smith (ankle)/Luke Lewis (neck) – indefinite.
KNIGHTS: Kade Snowden (knee)/Ryan Stig (eye) – indefinite; James
McManus (eye) – Rd 25; Kurt Gidley (shoulder) – season.
BULLDOGS: Kris Keating (hamstring) – indefinite; Sam Kasiano (cheek) – Rd 25; Dene Halatau (knee) – finals wk 1; Trent Hodkinson (shoulder)/Steve Turner (knee)/Tim Lafai (shoulder) – season.
COWBOYS: Robert Lui (susp)/James Segeyaro (ankle) – season; Ashley Graham (ankle)/Tariq Sims (leg) – indefinite.
SEA EAGLES: Ben Farrar (ACL) – indefinite.
VODAFONE WARRIORS: Sam Rapira (tricep) – Rd 26; Konrad Hurrell (ankle)/Simon Mannering (ankle)/Alehana Mara (leg)/Glen Fisiiahi (knee) – Rd 23; Jerome Ropati (knee) – season; Sio Siua Taukeiaho (ankle) - indefinite.
SHARKS: Wade Graham (sternum)/Stewart Mills (hamstring)/Bryce Gibbs (shoulder) – Rd 23; Ben Pomeroy (groin)/Nathan Gardner (knee)/Josh Cordoba (knee) – Rd 24.
RAIDERS: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (hamstring) – Rd 24; Bronson Harrison (back)/Jack Wighton (toe) – indefinite; Brett White (knee)/Terry Campese (knee) – season.
BRONCOS: Justin Hodges (hamstring) – Rd 23; Dale Copley (fibula) – Rd 25; Corey Parker (leg)/Jack Reed (leg) – indefinite; Jordan Kahu (knee)/Jharal Yow Yeh (ankle)/David Hala (knee) – season.
TITANS: Beau Champion (ankle)/Bodene Thompson (shoulder) – season; Greg Bird (hamstring) – indefinite.
RABBITOHS: Roy Asotasi (pec) – Rd 22; Issac Luke (susp.) – Rd 23; Greg Inglis (susp.) – Rd 24.
TIGERS: Ben Murdoch-Masila (ankle) – Rd 23; Chris Lawrence (ankle) – indefinite; Curtis Sironen (shoulder)/Lote Tuqiri (arm)/James Tedesco (knee) – season.
EELS: Willie Tonga (ankle) – Rd 24; Luke Kelly (eye) – Rd 26; Jarryd Hayne (knee)/Jacob Loko (knee)/Casey McGuire (pec)/Jordan Atkins (shoulder)/Matt Keating (back) – season.