The Warriors’ NRL 2020 Mission Improbable just became even more daunting after injuries to first-choice forwards Leeson Ah Mau and Jazz Tevaga.
The Kiwi club’s training in quarantine in Tamworth took a worrying turn over the weekend with news that a ruptured pectoral muscle is set to end veteran Test prop Ah Mau’s season and back-rower Tevaga suffered what appears to be serious knee damage.
Chief executive Cameron George will consider activating their option to apply for replacements in Australia, less than two weeks out from their return match against St George Illawarra.
Having been well-beaten in their first two games in March, then forced into strict lockdown in Auckland for more than a month, the Warriors prospects already looked grim heading into a revamped season for which they are based in Australia.
The loss of two middle forwards is a huge blow for coach Stephen Kearney, who had already lost powerful carrier Bunty Afoa and rising prospect Jackson Frei for the season from his threadbare propping stocks.
Ah Mau will undergo surgery in Sydney and is expected to be sidelined for up to four months after scans on Sunday confirmed the club’s worst fears.
The 30-year-old has been one of the most consistent performers for the Warriors since returning to the club last year. He was the only squad member to play all 24 games in 2019.
An updated Warriors statement on Sunday said workaholic Tevaga will be side-lined “indefinitely”, with scans needed to establish the full extent of the injury.
Kearney may be forced to start rookie prop signing Jamayne Taunoa-Brown alongside a fit-again Agnatius Paasi against the Dragons.
Other middle forward options are Lachlan Burr, Adam Blair and Isaiah Papali’i, who all have limited recent experience at prop.
George offered a short statement when asked if roster replacements would be sought.
“We are considering all options,” he said.
Before the team departed Auckland, George sought assurances from the NRL that such a concession would be available given the marathon nature of their Australian vigil.