Brisbane coach Kevin Walters admits he holds serious concerns for the health of Xavier Coates and John Asiata after the pair were sent to hospital during Brisbane's first-round loss to Parramatta in the NRL.
Coates fell awkwardly on his neck while diving to score a try while Asiata looked in severe pain as he clutched at his neck and shoulder following a more subtle collision in Friday's 24-16 loss to the Eels.
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Matt Lodge also managed just 19 minutes in his return from a knee injury last season before a hamstring complaint sent him to the bench.
A brace of tries from Coates - who was celebrating his 20th birthday - had helped the Broncos open up a 16-0 lead at halftime.
However, the young winger's second try saw him taken from the field for a head injury assessment (HIA) after he fell awkwardly on his neck.
Coates launched himself in the air to escape an attempted last-ditch tackle from Eels fullback Clint Gutherson, but landed dangerously on his neck.
“He came down heavily as he dives to put this down, with Gutherson coming across his only thought was get the ball down," Warren Smith said in commentary for Fox Sports.
“He must have slid three or four metres on his head.”
The frightening incident was made worse a short time later when it was confirmed that he wouldn't be coming back out for the second half.
“Real shame for the Broncos news coming through there will be no Xavier Coates,” Michael Ennis said in commentary.
“He won’t return he has failed his HIA. Really unfortunate he is headed to hospital for some scans on his neck.
“Not only has he been ruled out with a HIA he is on his way to hospital.”
The shocking incident led to an outpouring of support on social media, with viewers praying that Coates suffered a serious injury.
The Eels took advantage of the injury-depleted Broncos in the second half, scoring 24 straight points to overrun last year's wooden spooners, despite the hosts almost conjuring late points in an open, chaotic climax.
Brisbane's stocks now look extremely depleted ahead of next week's clash with Gold Coast given they were already without Kotoni Staggs (knee) for the first half of the season and Payne Haas (suspended) for two more games.
Brisbane's coach admitted after the game that the injury prognosis for Coates and Asiata in particular, looked "pretty grim".
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"Some big concerns certainly for their welfare ... Xavier put his body on the line for the try and Johnny as well," Walters said.
"It's a tough physical sport and tonight those two came off worse for wear so some big concerns for both of them and their short-term injury diagnosis looks pretty grim at the moment.
"I don't have hamstrings so I don't know much about them but he'd (Lodge) look to be in extreme doubt for next week."
Despite their injury toll there was some resolute tryline defence and desperate scrambling that kept the Broncos in it against a side that trounced them 58-0 and 34-6 in the last two years.
"We seemed to be dipping down then all of a sudden they found something ... and there were a couple of opportunities we didn't quite grab," Walters said.
"But that's what the season is about ... fix that up so the next time that happens we nail them."
Eels coach Brad Arthur admitted his men were guilty of not respecting the Broncos early.
"They tried really hard and I think Anthony Milford played one of his better games for a long, long time," he said.
"He kicked well, you could see they wanted to play for each other; I thought they did a really good job and they put it to us."
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