Tom Trbojevic's NRL season is all but over with the Manly superstar requiring surgery on his dislocated left shoulder.
A dejected Trbojevic received the news on Saturday afternoon, after scans showed the extent of damage from Friday night's injury.
The Sea Eagles are still hanging onto some hope he could play again this year, with the reigning Dally M Medallist to meet with a surgeon next week.
He will then undergo surgery, and even in the best-case scenario would require at least a 12-week recovery to return to the NRL field.
That would have him back just before the finals, however recuperations from serious shoulder surgeries often stretch out closer to six months.
It means Trbojevic will miss the State of Origin series for NSW and will now be fighting to feature in the end-of-year World Cup for Australia.
Trbojevic was hurt when diving and jostling with Makahesi Makatoa for a loose ball as he attempted to prevent an Eels try in Manly's 22-20 loss.
Teammates revealed he apologised to them in the sheds, feeling like he had somehow let them down.
"He's not great," hooker Lachlan Croker said.
"It's hard to be positive when these things happen. It's tough one.
"The first thing he said to us was sorry. It's just the type of guy he is ... It almost makes you feel worse for him.
"He would be so upset (feeling) that he let us down and didn't finish that game with us."
Manly players were clear Trbojevic had nothing to apologise for after they surrendered a 20-10 lead late.
Trbojevic's injury is also a blow for the NRL, given he is one of the game's most exciting players.
But it is Manly who feel his absence most.
When they had to play the majority of the 2020 season without him they finished 13th in what equalled Des Hasler's worst-ever season as a coach.
Manly players are adamant they have since learned to play without him, while also not blind to the fact they are a far better team with Trbojevic in it.
While at one stage Manly had won just seven of 31 games without their star fullback between 2019 and the opening month of 2021, they have claimed victory in seven of nine without him since.
"It's never good," Croker said.
"Obviously the calibre of player he is. You can't help but think where that leaves him and where it leaves us with the extent of the injury."
Reuben Garrick said he now felt comfortable stepping into the fullback role from the wing, after doing so for a month earlier this season.
"The more you play in any position, the more you get a feel for it," Garrick said.
"Especially at the top level. You have to have all your numbers down pat. Otherwise the great playmakers will take advantage of it.
"I am feeling more comfortable with it."
Australian Associated Press
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