Adam Reynolds will not require surgery on his right thumb but will be sidelined for up to a month as South Sydney also lost Cameron Murray, Campbell Graham and Jaxson Paulo in what turned out to be a horror road trip to Canberra.
Reynolds met with a surgeon late Monday and while he was informed he would be spared going under the knife, Souths officials confirmed he was looking at up to four weeks on the sidelines.
Cameron Murray suffered a grade-two syndesmosis and will be out four weeks, which now raises questions about his NSW Origin hopes.
It also emerged Graham and Paulo had played against the Raiders with a fractured hand and thumb respectively. Graham underwent surgery on Friday and will miss four weeks, while Paulo is expected to be out for up to eight weeks.
Already missing Latrell Mitchell because of suspension for Thursday night’s blockbuster against Melbourne, Souths will turn to outside backs Steven Marsters, Taane Milne and Braidon Burns. Burns survived his first hitout after a long injury layoff in reserve grade on the weekend while Marsters bagged a double.
Tautau Moga was another outside back option, but is serving a four-match ban for abusing a referee in reserve grade last weekend.
The Storm will head to Stadium Australia without Ryan Papenhuyzen who continues to battle a shoulder injury. Melbourne officials know the club have a 10-day turnaround until the following week’s game against St George Illawarra, which will only give their No. 1 extra time to get fit.
Cronulla have been dealt a blow with Braden Hamlin-Uele to require ankle surgery, which will keep him out up to two months. The Sharks are already missing Royce Hunt (knee) and Siosifa Talakai (suspension), while Andrew Fifita remains suspended for an incident in a reserve grade game for Cronulla.
The Sharks have carried young heavyweight prop Franklin Pele, but he is unlikely to be handed his maiden start against competition front-runners Penrith on Friday evening.
The Panthers are chasing a ninth straight win and are almost at full strength now Dylan Edwards and Api Koroisau are back on deck after nursing respective injuries.
Superstar halfback Nathan Cleary said the clean bill of health came down to a touch of luck and hard work with “prehab and rehab”. As some clubs struggle with injuries, Penrith have players in their undefeated reserve grade continually waiting for a call-up.
“Fingers crossed we can get through another season with no major injuries,” Cleary said.
As for his own game, the No. 7 said: “My game is developing and coming along and I’m seeing things a bit more [clearly]. Defensively, I’m also building good combinations with ‘Critta’ [Stephen Crichton].”