Joey Manu news leaves NRL fans gutted ahead of finals

·5-min read
Pictured here, Roosters centre Joey Manu winces after picking up an injury against the Rabbitohs.
The Roosters will have to go deep in the NRL finals series to give Joey Manu any chance of returning this season. Pic: Getty

The Sydney Roosters will have to make at least the preliminary final to give superstar centre Joseph Manu any chance of being able to play again this season.

MRI scans on Monday confirmed that Manu suffered a calf strain in the round 25 win over the Rabbitohs, with the club informing supporters on social media that it was "expected to take between two to three weeks of full recovery" for the star.

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It means a best-case scenario for the Tri Colours would see Manu return in a preliminary final, provided the Roosters can go that far without one of their stand-out players in 2023.

It's more likely that the Roosters will have to qualify for the grand final to see the 26-year-old Kiwi superstar back on the park again.

Manu's absence will undoubtedly be felt when the Roosters' season goes on the line in Sunday's elimination final return bout with the Rabbitohs.

Skipper James Tedesco confirmed the unfortunate injury news to reporters during the NRL finals launch in Sydney on Monday.

"He's obviously disappointed," Tedesco revealed about Manu.

"They're saying three to four (weeks). So it's going to be touch and go.

"But we've spoke about it; no matter who's in our team, we've showed our depth over the past couple of years.

"Whoever comes into our team is going to do a good job for us. We've got all the confidence in the world on that."

It's particularly tough on Manu after the Roosters star was also wiped out of last year's finals series as a result of a shocking tackle from Rabbitohs fullback, Latrell Mitchell.

Seen here, Roosters centre Joseph Manu reacts after sustaining a calf injury in the round 25 NRL victory over the Rabbitohs.
Roosters centre Joseph Manu reacts after sustaining a calf injury in the round 25 NRL victory over the Rabbitohs. Pic: Getty

Addressing the Manu incident during Fox League's coverage of Friday night's game, NRL greats Michael Ennis and Corey Parker pondered whether the Roosters could recover from his absence.

“That is a devastating blow, he’s an X-Factor in their premiership race and their run towards that trophy,” Ennis said.

Parker went one step further by declaring the Roosters' season all but over without their star centre on the paddock.

“He’s huge, a huge loss in my opinion, Joey Manu. I’ve got him as one of – or my favourite player in the game,” Parker said.

“He’s so much of an influence for this Roosters outfit. I’d nearly go (so far as) to say they couldn’t go any further without him."

The rugby league world has been left gutted for Manu in the wake of the devastating injury.

Roosters have a number of injury concerns

The Roosters are hopeful Sam Verrills (knuckle) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (hamstring) will be fit to play, while Cameron Murray is also hopeful of overcoming a concussion for Souths.

But by Tedesco's own admission, Manu is the hardest possible man in that team to replace.

Joseph Suaalii would usually be the obvious choice to move into the centres, but Daniel Tupou's groin injury risks leaving the Roosters short in the backs.

It means coach Trent Robinson will likely have to decide between playing Kevin Naiqama on the wing or Drew Hutchison at centre, with Paul Momirovski to fill the other hole.

The Roosters built a reputation for overcoming injuries on the run to last year's finals, but in Manu they lose the man who leads the NRL for tackle busts with 151.

"He's definitely hard to replace," Tedesco said.

"There's his versatility, and he's just a footy player.

"It's going to be on us as a back five to get through the work, because there is a lot of work around the middle.

"He's got that x-factor as well ... but we do have a number of players that have that x-factor as well. So we shouldn't be missing too much there.

"But it's just the instinctive footy player Joey is. He always puts his hands on the ball. So it's on all of us as a team to share that load."

The Roosters will also not have Lindsay Collins back from suspension until the grand final, in what is another huge blow to their finals hopes.

with AAP

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