The 2022 competition is less than four months away and all is quiet on the Northern Beaches.
With Manly’s premiership hopes on tenterhooks following Tom Trbojevic’s injury, one major aspect of panic has emerged – what rampant potencies will this ailment bestow him?
Based on the spectacular trajectory he’s plotted since his last lay-off, there’s nothing to indicate he won’t electrify his way to a Clive Churchill Medal and a Grammy – probably before he even takes the field.
Trbojevic’s immediate availability is doubtful after copping a jaw injury via a head clash with teammate Jason Saab, an incident so serious that the club immediately referred the champion fullback to a specialist for an emergency dose of smoke and mirrors.
Luckily this treatment was able to be promptly applied, with the specialist being in the coaches’ box at the time.
Confusion has since spread over the nature and severity of the injury, with 67 versions active in the community at the time of printing – the highest caseload of speculation recorded since the Cooper Cronk scapula, and any episode of NRL 360.
While the Daily Telegraph reported a facial fracture and a lay-off until finals time, Trbojevic declared he would be back this weekend. But despite being initially coy, the Sea Eagles ultimately named him to play, finally quashing the lingering notion that anybody in rugby league can be trusted.
Nevertheless, the fullback’s jaw has put the entire NRL on edge, as it awaits news on his recovery period and what luxury factory extras he’ll be returning with this time.
For those unaware, Trbojevic’s rich vein in 2021 has been akin to that of other blinding streaks of form, like Jarryd Hayne’s 2009 and Ben Barba’s 2012, except the only grave misdemeanour committed by Tommy is that it’s benefitting Manly.
While many have credited the 24-year-old’s performance to hard work and discipline, there is no doubt his irresistible touch can be traced back to one tangible incident – the unexplainable supernatural flashpoint that happened the night he pulled his hamstring on the Corso.
Before a ball was kicked in anger in 2021, Trbojevic was sidelined for the opening month of the season after sustaining a nasty soft-tissue injury, in which time his teammates went on a wretched 0-4 run deep in to the premiership abyss.
Initially it was speculated he pulled the muscle in a preseason time trial, albeit one against a plastered punter along the Northern Beaches’ famous drinking precinct after a treacherous session on the soup.
But Trbojevic poured cold water on the story, water coincidentally similar to that which he tenuously claimed was pouring upon him in the shower when he fatefully popped the hammy while washing off a 12-beer, 100-metre workout on the Corso.
But despite its barely-concealed doubt as to the explanation, the public agreed on one thing – something happened to the Origin dynamo when he foolishly strained to outrun that local drinker that night. Something that transcended science. Something that transcended bulk frothies.
Ever since returning from the injury, he has challenged James Tedesco’s crown, won a Wally Lewis Medal, and sparked debate as to whether he was created in a lab – a notion not implausible considering the metal plates, reinforced sinew, and Des Hasler.
Even if his standout 2021 has come amid a destabilised competition of uber-brittle defences, Trbojevic’s performance levels post-recovery have been nothing short of bionic.
So whether or not he’s available this week or drinking through a straw until Christmas, we opposition fans will forever remain in fear of his fragile body, and wary of Manly’s ‘friendly fire’.