Manly superstar Tom Trbojevic’s shoulder injury sustained in his side's 22-20 loss to the Parramatta Eels has left Sea Eagles and NSW fans alike feeling worse for wear.
The 25-year-old left the ground after a tackle on the try line that prevented a try for the Eels and was in visible pain.
A dislocated shoulder will result in a race against the clock for the June 8 State of Origin opener where he and the NSW Blues will be hoping to secure back-to-back series wins against Queensland.
Speaking on Fox League former Bulldog Michael Ennis surmised the extent of Trbojevic’s loss to both sides.
“A killer blow, he was tremendous, and he was really starting to warm, Tom,” he said.
“His acceleration was back, he looked confident with his catch-and-pass and true to Tommy’s style he’s hurt his shoulder while (making) a desperation tackle to stop Parramatta scoring.
“It’s heartbreaking, not only for Manly but also Blues fans.
“It didn’t look great at all, his arm sitting in a sling. He’s so important to this Manly side and so important to the NSW side.
“Some of our champion players are brutally honest with themselves.
“Leading into this game tonight, Tom was really open about how disappointed he was with his own form and how he needed to pick that up.
“Tonight, he was moving a lot free-er, it was really good signs, he was moving really well, he wasn’t grimacing and in that second half, I felt like Tom was really starting to find his rhythm until we see these devastating pictures.
“I mean it really is (devastating). Everyone that loves rugby league, loves what Tom does on the footy field. He’s a player that, whether you love Manly or hate them, you love what he brings. He’s a guy that brings people through the gates.
“Really tough scenes seeing Tommy leave the field like that tonight, he’s a super player.”
Selection queries have already started if the fullback is unable to get himself fit.
“You’d imagine that Liam Martin is going to be somewhere around the NSW side,” Ennis said.
“We know Nathan and Jarome are going to be there as halves providing they get through the next couple of weeks. Combinations are critical, Brian To’o was enormous last week... someone like Matt Burton, who won a premiership at left centre with those Penrith boys would fit in there no problems.
“There’s plenty of guys that would be capable but Tom’s blue-chip... Tom dominates at that level.”
Game 1 of the Origin will be played at Sydney’s Accor Stadium before it heads to Optus Stadium for the first time, then Suncorp Stadium to round out the series.
Manly will be hoping the loss can be covered as they sit at 5-5 after two consecutive defeats and travel to face a Melbourne Storm side down on form in recent weeks.