The New Zealand Herald

Injury agony for Warriors

Brown confirms long-term injury for prop Fonua-Blake

- Michael Burgess

It might be time to start talking about an injury crisis at the Warriors, with the long-term loss of prop Addin Fonua-Blake. It’s terrible news for the club, on the back of a growing casualty ward.

Coach Nathan Brown confirmed that the diagnosis for the marquee prop wasn’t favourable, after he left the field in the 14th minute of Sunday’s 32-12 loss to the Roosters.

“There’s a number of problems there but it is going to be a long-term injury,” Brown told Newstalk ZB.

“The best case is about six-to-eight weeks but there’s still a number of things and people he has got to see — it could be longer term and it’s certainly not a good one. Unfortunat­ely, sometimes in rugby league these collisions happen and sometimes your players are on the wrong end of them.”

Fonua-Blake will leave a vacuum. He was tipped as a game-changer — their first genuine world-class prop for years — and that feeling was vindicated in the opening month of the season, with his powerful performanc­es.

He changed the equation for the team, providing a platform for front-foot ball with his ability to bend the line, and his absence may do the same.

Aside from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tohu Harris and perhaps specialist hooker Wayde Egan, Fonua-Blake is probably the next hardest to replace.

The club have also lost both firstchoic­e centres (Euan Aitken and Peta Hiku), their No 1 halfback (Chanel Harris-Tavita) and utility forward Bayley Sironen, although the latter is only expected to be out for a couple of weeks.

Prop Jamayne Taumoa-Brown is still suspended and Bunty Afoa took an early guilty plea for a shoulder charge, copping a one-week ban.

“It was the letter of the law,” said Brown. “There was no use challengin­g it because in the heat of battle we got that one wrong.”

Brown asserts they have the depth to cope, starting with the game against the Sea Eagles on Friday night at 8pm.

“A lot of boys have been training well for a long time and waiting for their opportunit­y. A couple of them have got their opportunit­y probably a touch quicker than what they thought but they’ve been training well and when they have been playing, whether it is Queensland Cup or the local Newcastle comp, they have been performing well at that level. Now they’re just going to have to come up to the top level and transform it.”

Brown expects new teenage fullback Reece Walsh to arrive soon, after being released by the Broncos.

“My understand­ing is that Brisbane have agreed to release him so at some stage we are hopeful of him turning up this week, to join the squad for the next three years.”

There has been speculatio­n of a player swap — with exciting rookie Paul Turner heading to Red Hill — although Brown hopes that won’t be the case.

“I would much rather Paul stay with us but I also understand that [the manager] is looking for opportunit­ies for Paul as well,” said Brown.

“From the club’s point of view, we certainly didn’t want Paul to go anywhere, but what ends up happening, I don’t know. Sometimes you don’t have control of all these things and if Paul has to go the other way that’s the way it is.”

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 ?? Photo / Getty Images ?? Warriors coach Nathan Brown has confirmed a long-term injury for star forward Addin Fonua-Blake after last weekend’s heavy loss to the Sydney Roosters.
Photo / Getty Images Warriors coach Nathan Brown has confirmed a long-term injury for star forward Addin Fonua-Blake after last weekend’s heavy loss to the Sydney Roosters.

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