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Cowboys rocked by 'terrible' news as Coen Hess ruled out for entire NRL season

Coen Hess has been ruled out for the entire 2024 NRL season after rupturing his ACL.

Coen Hess pictured
Coen Hess will miss the entire 2024 NRL season after scans confirmed he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Image: Getty

Cowboys enforcer Coen Hess will miss the entire 2024 NRL season after scans confirmed he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during the side's trial match against Canberra on Sunday. Hess has been a constant presence in the North Queensland side since making his debut in 2015, playing 165 NRL games to date.

He played every game of the 2023 campaign, where he was used as both a second-rower and middle forward. The loss of Hess further decimates the Cowboys forward ranks after Luciano Leilua left the club last week to join the Dragons after he sought a move back to NSW to be closer to family.

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Cowboys general manager of football Micheal Luck told AAP following the Hess development the club is weighing up signing a replacement, as they have two roster spots available in their top 30. "It is terrible news for Hessie," Luck told AAP.

"He is as professional as anyone in our building. He will have his surgery, be methodical about his rehab and no doubt he will be bigger and better next year. It is a big hole for us to fill this year and will give an opportunity for some guys to step up. We have also got a couple of roster spots spare we could potentially back-fill if we need to later in the year.

"There are some guys who have trialled really well who probably weren't on a lot of people's radar before the pre-season. Sam McIntyre and Thomas Mikaele have both been very good in the pre-season and will be given a bigger opportunity than they would have been earlier in the year now in Coen's absence."

Coen Hess of the Cowboys injured on the ground during the NRL Pre-Season Challenge Round 2 match between the Canberra Raiders and the North Queensland Cowboys at Seiffert Oval in Canberra, Sunday, February 25, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Coen Hess ruptured the ACL in his right knee during the Cowboy's trial match against Canberra on Sunday. Image: Getty (AAPIMAGE)

Thomas Mikaele out to impress at the Cowboys

Mikaele might be at his fourth club in two years but has shone since joining the Cowboys and has been presented with an opportunity to capitalise on Hess' misfortune. The Cowboys forward's injury has put Mikaele firmly in contention for a round-one berth after impressing in North Queensland's recent trials.

On the back of an impressive pre-season, the second-rower has been handed a top-30 deal, despite only signing a development contract in recent months. After the Wests Tigers released him in 2022, Mikaele played at Super League club Warrington, before featuring in a single match for Gold Coast late last year.

Ahead of the 2024 NRL season, the 115kg enforcer says he is relieved that he has settled into a club after a turbulent few years. "It's a funny one - early on in the pre-season I thought I was going back to England," he said.

"It didn't happen, then I was bouncing around. One week I thought it was going to be in Sydney ... then the opportunity was there to come up north. I got to pre-season pretty late. It was probably two weeks into December, (but) straight away the boys were very welcoming and everyone was hard-working, so I just slotted straight in."

with AAP

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On the back of an impressive pre-season, the second-rower has been moved off of a development contract and placed on a top-30 deal. After the Wests Tigers released him in 2022, Mikaele played at Super League club Warrington, before featuring in a single match for Gold Coast late last year.

Ahead of the 2024 NRL season, the 115kg enforcer says he is glad to have finally settled into a club after a turbulent few years. "It's a funny one - early on in the pre-season I thought I was going back to England," he said.

"It didn't happen, then I was bouncing around. One week I thought it was going to be in Sydney ... then the opportunity was there to come up north. I got to pre-season pretty late. It was probably two weeks into December, (but) straight away the boys were very welcoming and everyone was hard-working, so I just slotted straight in."