England rugby league coach Steve McNamara must have felt like he was some kind of jinx as he sat in the stands for Sunday’s Wests Tigers-South Sydney NRL clash.
In Australia to keep an eye on a few of his charges ahead of next year’s World Cup, McNamara headed to Allianz Stadium to see two of his best in Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis go head to head.
They started well enough, but in the space of a couple of minutes, both were up the tunnel with potentially serious leg injuries.
Burgess screamed out in pain as Aaron Woods landed on his outstretched leg, with the initial diagnosis being a medial ligament strain as he was helped from the field by a pair of trainers.
“It’s hard for them to judge the size of the injury, the grading,” said Burgess, with a month on the sidelines a likely result.
“I think it’s the medial, which is probably the best-case scenario. It’s not as bad as it could have been.
“I knew something had gone, I knew something had popped.”
Ellis came off under his own steam, but with a pronounced limp.
“He’ll have a scan tomorrow but it doesn’t look good,” West Tigers coach Tim Sheens said.
“He doesn’t come off the field easy. The initial prognosis is a fractured foot.
“They may be a small bone, it may be a large but he couldn’t get around on it.”
Lucky for McNamara, next year’s World Cup is still more than a year away.