Tom Trbojevic has been cleared of serious injury and is a 50-50 chance of lining up for Manly in round nine, but there are major concerns about the star fullback with State of Origin just five weeks away. Trbojevic left the field with nine minutes remaining in Manly's win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday after suffering a groin injury.
It came after Trbojevic suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries last year, before picking up a hip problem earlier this season. The Sea Eagles fullback suffered the groin issue in an innocuous incident on Sunday, before leaving the field under the eye of a trainer.
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Trbojevic underwent scans on Monday, which revealed the injury isn't serious, and he could be fit for Saturday's encounter with the Gold Coast. Coach Anthony Seibold and captain Daly Cherry-Evans had both played down the issue on Sunday evening.
"He's twinged his groin. They didn't feel as though it was serious," Seibold said in his post-match press conference after the 22-16 win. "He felt as though he could have kept on going. But he knows his body well and thought it was best to come off rather than hurt his body further. He will be frustrated; I know talking to him he is frustrated. But it was quite innocuous."
Cherry-Evans said: "I was behind him when the incident happened. On a wet dewy night, it was so innocuous. I feel like that's something that is not uncommon on a wet dewy night. I reckon he was pretty unlucky."
Trbojevic's fitness has been a worry all season, with the 26-year-old appearing very proppy for a number of weeks. The star fullback was chased down by Tigers forward Stefano Utoikamanu in the first half on Sunday, and didn't go the distance after a line-break later on.
The latest concern is sure to set off alarm bells for Brad Fittler and NSW State of Origin officials, with the season opener in Adelaide just five weeks away. A fully-fit Trbojevic will line up for NSW at centre or wing, but that is anything but certain.
"He's been carrying a hip pointer for a couple of weeks and you saw, I think last week, when he got a needle in a bad place which caused some back spasms," Fittler said on Channel 9 on Sunday. Phil Gould added: "He's done that a couple of times today, I don't think he was 100 per cent going in.
"I really doubt that he's done his groin in that incident, but that's where it was most noticeable. I sensed a number of times today he wasn't 100 per cent."
Queensland coach Billy Slater said on Channel 9: "It's horror luck, he's had a wretched run of injuries." Fans were left saddened for Trbojevic on social media, with many suggesting he can't be picked for NSW while under an injury cloud.
Cant believe he hasn’t offered to take a pay cut… he is taking Manly for a ride.!!!
— Dynamic Rabbitoh (@DynamicRabbitoh) April 23, 2023
Ridiculous if they're even thinking about him for Origin. He doing his club in if he puts his hand up.
— Richard Chance (@richardborne_) April 23, 2023
Hour after last weeks game he was hobbling so bad I really didn’t expect him to play tonight
— Dougie Finlay (@dougiebag) April 23, 2023
He doesn't even look right when he runs now.
— Mighty Dragon (@mbrinky) April 23, 2023
I’m a fan of Turbo but he shouldn’t be picked for origin, he can’t run, beginning to think that trip to US has done nothing but confuse the hell out of him. It’s rare to see a fullback decelerate every time they get into open field.
— TGD (@sneakyXR5) April 23, 2023
Been struggling for a couple of weeks. Not surprised he came off before full time
— Brad Morgan (@BradMor54822174) April 23, 2023
Manly's horror record without Tom Trbojevic
Manly have won just 34 per cent of games played without Trbojevic since the start of the 2019 season - 18 out of 53. That number pales in comparison to the 34 of 51 they have won with him in the side across the same time frame (66.67 per cent).
"This is the first time it has happened this year. And the way we finished the game there, we defended so well," Cherry-Evans said. "It showed that we cared and we wanted to finish off for each other.
"Regardless of who is out there, we are trying to build that mentality into our game, and I felt like we did that tonight. Yeah, we are going to miss him if he doesn't play. Because he is an important part of our team.
"But I think tonight showed that we're going to try and turn a page when it comes to Tom potentially playing or not playing, we're just going to move forward. I am definitely worried about him when he goes off the field.
"But Tom is so competitive and so tough, it will take a fair bit to keep him out. The initial reports are it's not too bad.
"I am sure they will do the best thing for the team. But Tom is a tough fella, and if he can play through it he will play through it."
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