Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have added to their growing injury list with centre Steve Matai now being ruled out for the rest of the season.
Contracted for next season, Matai will soon undergo neck surgery on an injury that has seen him play just eight matches for the Sea Eagles this season. His last match was against the Nth Qld Cowboys in round nine.
“We are confident that Steve will make a full recovery and be ready for pre-season training in 2017,’’ Coach Trent Barrett said.
“It is devastating for Steve and certainly not ideal for our team. He has been an integral part of Manly’s success for a long time.
“I’ve been ultra-impressed with ‘Skivi’ and how he carries himself both on and off the field.
“He is one of our leaders. He is a tough man. We are confident by undergoing this surgery, it will prolong his career.”
Matai joins Jayden Hodges (knee) and Brenton Lawrence (pec) on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
Manly also go into Sunday’s vital home game against Penrith at Brookvale Oval without key men Jamie Lyon (hamstring) and Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle).
Barrett said he expected Matai to keep playing his aggressive style following surgery.
“That is what makes him so great and such a good player,’’ Barrett said.
“There are not too many centres who like playing against him.
“Steve’s injury is just another test for us. It has been challenging, particularly given the lack of availability of senior players in extremely important positions.
“All we can do is stick together and keep working hard.
“This Sunday’s game is an important one for us and we need our passionate supporters there to get behind the team.”