Western Suburbs captain Ryan Walker could face an extended stint on the Newcastle Rugby League sidelines after suffering a "pretty nasty" injury during Saturday's 26-18 loss to Souths at Harker Oval.
Walker was taken from the field following a head clash 15 minutes into the sixth-round fixture and went to hospital to undergo scans for a suspected broken cheek bone or fractured eye socket.
"We lost Ryan Walker about 15 minutes in and it looked pretty nasty," Rosellas coach Todd Lowrie said.
"There was a head clash in a tackle and he was split above the eye, but it could be a broken cheek bone or fractured eye socket.
"He came off the field and went to hospital. We'll just have to wait and see what comes back. I'm not sure about the rest of the season, but I'd say he'll be out for a little while."
Walker, the 2017 best and fairest and 2019 player of the final, was lining up at five-eighth for Wests and it comes after already losing Frazer Price (knee), Sam Keenan (shoulder), Ryan Walsh (ACL) and Luke Walsh (not playing).
"It's been a bit of a poison chalice for us this year," Lowrie said.
In terms of the eight-point defeat, which leaves the Rosellas in equal fourth on the tier one ladder, Lowrie said Souths "dominated the game" and "were the better side".
Lions coach Andrew Ryan said "our first 40 minutes was really impressive" and "it was a big win for us because we were on the same points as Wests going into the game and now we're [outright] third."
Kaine Parkinson made his debut for Souths, who were also marking the Weekend at Sleapy's fundraiser, while centre Dylan Lucas and prop Jack Cameron both impressed.
Elsewhere, a top-of-the-table clash has been set up for this weekend with leaders Wyong and second-placed Cessnock defeating Lakes and Central respectively on Saturday.
Roos five-eighth Jack Burraston crossed for a double while captain-coach Mitch Williams opened the scoring in a 20-6 triumph at Cahill Oval.
The Goannas grabbed tries either side of half-time and accounted for Central, missing the likes of Junior Roqica and Zac Hosking, by 34-4 at Cessnock Sportsground.
Maitland had the bye
LADDER: Wyong 12; Cessnock 10; Souths 8; Wests, Central 6; Lakes 4; Maitland 0.
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