Scans have confirmed the worst possible news for North Queensland Cowboys enforcer Jason Taumalolo, with the lock sustaining a Grade 3 medial ligament tear.
The complete tear will leave one of the game’s best forwards on the sideline for a period of between six and ten weeks.
The injury occurred during the first half of their clash against the Broncos during Round 2, when Taumalolo’s knee was bent awkwardly under a tackle.
While Taumalolo, who ran for over 300 metres during Round 1 against the St George Illawarra Dragons, played on for nearly 20 minutes with heavy strapping on the left knee, he was brought from the field and didn’t return in the second half.
It was initially hoped the injury would be nothing more than a minor MCL sprain with a return to play time of inside a month, however, scans have put it in the serious category of a complete tear.
While it’s not the end of his season, it will leave a large dent in the Cowboys, who were visibly weaker after he went off with the injury against the Broncos.
North Queensland went on to lose to Brisbane 29 points to 10, with their forwards bullied by a visibly fired up Broncos pack throughout the game.
There is a ray of hope he will return sooner for the Cowboys though, given he missed just three weeks in 2015 with a Grade 2 injury.
However, with six to ten weeks the slated return time for the 25-year-old, there should be no expectation to see him on the field before the Cowboys’ Round 9 game against the Rabbitohs. It could possibly be Round 13 before he is back on the park.
The recovery time should, however, leave 2016 Dally M Medal winner available for the mid-season Test when Tonga take on New Zealand in Auckland as part of the newly created Oceania Cup between Round 14 and 15 of the NRL season.