MACQUARIE coach Steve Kidd knows Luke Higgins will be "hard to cover for", but he feels most for the Scorpions lock himself after being struck down by a potentially season-ending injury.
The Newcastle Rugby League player of the year leader is set to undergo dual surgeries after scans this week revealed he damaged three ankle ligaments last round.
Higgins had been hopeful of lining up for Macquarie against former club Souths at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday before receiving the unexpected test results.
It was a cruel blow for the Rebels representative, who joined the Scorpions to be alongside older brother Liam and led the competition's individual pointscore at the halfway mark of the 2021 campaign.
"He [Higgins] was shattered yesterday when he rang me," Kidd told the Newcastle Herald on Friday.
"He was probably playing the best he's ever played."
Higgins was taken from the field just 22 minutes into Macquarie's 40-10 win over The Entrance at home on Saturday.
"He landed awkwardly in a tackle and came off, but thought nothing more of it and never went back on because we were cruising," Kidd said.
"He was talking about how much it had improved and coming along to test his fitness at training on Friday night. Then he got the scans back and he's ripped three ligaments in his ankle."
Higgins hopes to return at some point this year, but it seems unlikely given the timeframe of upcoming procedures.
"He's booked in for surgery next week," Kidd said.
"That's a six-week recovery and then there's a second operation."
Matthew Moon shapes as the likely replacement for Higgins at lock.
Kidd also pointed to the likes of Campbell Sheppard, Matt Geoffrey and Isaac Briggs spending more minutes in the middle.
The Scorpions have Callan Briggs (shoulder), Simon Allen (personal), Joseph Gardiner (suspended) and Jack Jordan (broken foot) unavailable.
Macquarie (12 points) currently sit fourth on the ladder, four adrift of the top three and four points ahead of equal fifth.
Elsewhere in round 11 on Saturday and halfback Adrian Davis returns for Cessnock as they prepare to tackle Wests at Harker Oval.
Maitland, who had Cooper Jenkins named in the Knights' NSW Cup squad, will look to extend their winning streak to eight games when they host Wyong.
The Entrance visit Lakes at Cahill Oval.
Sunday's sole fixture sees Luke Walsh back for Central against Kurri at St John Oval.
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