The fallout from Canterbury's heavy loss to South Sydney has taken another turn for the worse, with winger Josh Addo-Carr ruled out for at least the next eight weeks. The injury will be a blow not only to the Bulldogs but potentially the NSW Blues, with Addo-Carr having been in the frame for a State of Origin recall.
Addo-Carr came straight from the field after his right foot badly twisted after getting caught in the turf at Accor Stadium - adding injury to insult in the 50-16 NRL defeat at the hands the Rabbitohs. Perhaps the only good news was that rookie Jacob Preston has escaped charge over his hip-drop tackle on Izaac Thompson.
The 27-year-old was immediately booked for surgery, Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould said on Twitter after Addo-Carr went in for scans on Saturday morning. He was diagnosed with syndesmosis, or a high ankle sprain, as well as an injury to the medial ligament in his right knee.
“Josh Addo-Carr is booked in for ankle surgery. Surgeon organising now and should be this afternoon,” Gould wrote.
“Tightrope for syndesmosis. He has also injured his right knee medial ligament. They have put him in a brace. Generally an 8 week recovery time for return to play.”
The loss of Addo-Carr is a brutal blow for the Bulldogs, who had shown signs of improvement before the 34-point defeat consigned them to a 3-3 record. Getting back in a winning position could be easier said than done for the Bulldogs, who are dealing with a mounting injury list.
Viliame Kikau, Tevita Pangai Jr and Raymond Faitala-Mariner all missed the Good Friday clash, with head coach Cameron Ciraldo hoping all three would return for a crucial match agains Parramatta next week. He didn't want to use the less than ideal injury list as an excuse for the second-half blowout against the Rabbitohs, however.
Josh Addo-Carr is booked in for ankle surgery. Surgeon organising now and should be this afternoon. Tightrope for syndesmosis.
He has also injured his right knee medial ligament. They have put him in a brace. Generally an 8 week recovery time for return to play. @NRL_Bulldogs
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) April 7, 2023
#NRLBulldogsSouths I hope Josh Addo-Carr is okay. The Dude is an absolute champion and a great character and is exactly what Rugby League needs. Hope the injury isn't bad. Stay strong brother.
— Shane Moran (@scoolm8) April 7, 2023
— Supercoach Brain 🧠 (@Brain_FS) April 7, 2023
Bulldogs indicate a grade 2 syndesmosis injury (partial tear) for Josh Addo-Carr, aiming for him to have surgery today. Tightrope repair usually comes with a 6-8 week return to play time in the NRL, can be longer if associated fracture. Wish JAC the best with recovery ahead pic.twitter.com/KOuvSFikku
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) April 7, 2023
“There’s no real common injury or anything like that, it’s just unfortunately a bit of bad luck at the moment,” Ciraldo said. "It’s not ideal but that’s not why we lost by 50.
“We’ve got guys in our club who are capable of doing the job, we’ve got a good reserve grade side, we’ve got good up-and-coming young players, it’s just that we didn’t do it today.”
Canterbury count cost of brutal NRL loss to Rabbitohs
In perhaps the only silver lining for the Bulldogs, rookie Preston has been cleared of wrongdoing after he was penalised and sent to the sin bin at a crucial stage of the match. Bulldogs players erupted when Preston was sent to the sin-bin in the midst of their attempted comeback from a 26-12 deficit in the second half.
Left a man short in Preston's absence, the Rabbitohs piled on three tries in quick succession to all but put the game out of the Bulldogs' reach. On Saturday afternoon, the match review committee deemed Preston had no case to answer, with the contact judged not enough to even attract a fine.
Ciraldo would not weigh-in to the hip-drop debate on Friday, but former Canterbury captain James Graham labelled the call a "joke" in commentary. The decision not to further punish Preston comes after Cronulla lock Dale Finucane last week received a three-week ban for a hip-drop tackle while last season, Brisbane prop Patrick Carrigan incurred a four-game suspension.
The NRL first issued the edict to remove the tackle from the game in 2020, fearing injuries to players when a defender swings their weight onto the back of the legs of an attacking player. However, there have been concerns punished tackles are often merely accidents in slippery conditions.
Souths are set to be without Thompson for some time, after the winger limped off following Preston's tackle on Friday. "The game is doing a great job trying to do what they can," Souths coach Jason Demetriou said after the match.
"It is up to the clubs to show some onus because it is going to affect your team somewhere. You are going to lose a high-quality player to a hip drop, which is a tackle that can be avoided in my opinion.
"We don't practise it. There is no way that would happen at training, I can't stress that point enough - it does not happen at training "Coaches and teammates would not let that happen, so I don't know why we are accepting that it is OK on the field."
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