Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett's weekend just got that little bit more tedious, after Jayden Hodges suffered a suspected ACL injury in the club's 14-8 loss to the Bulldogs at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
The club will now be one short of a full 14 man squad for their quarter-final clash, with there being no tournament provision for Barrett to bring a 19th player into his squad, which would have been young back-rower Dylan Kelly.
Kelly came over with the squad after Jorge Taufua was ruled out with a hamstring injury, but by then it was too late to include him in the team as per the guidelines.
In what's been Barrett's first weekend coaching the club, the frustrated first-time head coach will be counting his losses on Monday with Taufua, Jamie Buhrer (jaw – six to eight weeks), Nathan Green and captain Jake Trbojevic (both concussion) all ruled out of the tournament.
"Dylan Kelly is still sitting in there so we have another player. We're down to 13. I'd think all the coaches would be in the same boat, I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it if one of the other teams had to do it," Barrett said.
"It's not like we're bringing in Jamie Lyon or Brett Stewart, Dylan Kelly is a young kid who has travelled to Auckland for an opportunity and he's been denied.
"I realise they have rules. It's just frustrating when you see another [Hodges] who probably wouldn't have had to double up on games and do his ACL, that's what's frustrating."
When quizzed on the decision, NRL head of football Todd Greenberg reaffirmed the NRL's stance on ensuring a level playing field remains for all 16 clubs.
"There is no provision in the tournament rules for 19 players," Greenberg said.
"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."