Game Action  :Digital Image  Grant Trouville © NRLphotos  : NRL Rugby League - 2016 Auckland 9s - Day Two Auckland Auckland 9s at EDEN PARK AUCKLNAD NZ. Sunday February 7th 2016.

The NRL has explained the reason for denying Manly Warringah Sea Eagles a chance to play Dylan Kelly in the Auckland Nines finals series.

Already missing Jake Trbojevic, Jamie Buhrer and Nathan Green through injury after yesterday’s matches, the Sea Eagles lost hooker Jayden Hodges with a suspected ACL knee injury in the loss to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this morning.

The Sea Eagles brought over young forward Dylan Kelly as a 19th man but tournament rules allow for 18 players to be named in a team’s squad. No additional players can be added through the course of the tournament.

It means the Sea Eagles will go into the finals with just 13 men.

"There is no provision in the tournament rules for 19 players,'' said NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg.

"Based on feedback from the clubs, we increased the size of the squads from 16 to 18 for this tournament.

"All squads except Manly have brought 18 players and it would be unfair on those other clubs if an exception was made."

Speaking after the loss to the Bulldogs, Manly Warringah Coach Trent Barrett felt for Hodges.

“If it is what we think it is, it is a season ending (for Jayden). Jamie Buhrer has a broken jaw. We just have to try and patch the team up and play again,’’ Barrett said.

“It is pretty obvious why we don’t bring all of the superstars. We had to put a team on the park and we had a couple of kids there we couldn’t play because they were not eligible and not in our top 25.

“Dylan Kelly is sitting there and we have got another player. We are down to 13.

“I think all of the other coaches are in the same boat. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with it if one of the other teams (had that problem). It is not like we are bringing in Jamie Lyon or Brett Stewart.

“Dylan Kelly is a young kid who travelled for an opportunity. I understand they have rules.

“It is frustrating to see another one (go down) who probably wouldn’t have had to double up again today and do his ACL.”