Wests Tigers can still make a run at the 2016 finals despite a crucial loss to fellow contenders Gold Coast and the likely loss of fullback James Tedesco for the rest of the regular season, according to coach Jason Taylor.
The in-form Campbelltown junior was taken from the field in the 60th minute with blood streaming from his mouth after copping a swinging arm to the jaw from Ryan James and immediately rushed to hospital for scans with initial fears he had suffered a broken jaw.
That would put him out for at least the rest of the regular season meaning the now 10th-placed Tigers will have to win two or potentially all three of their remaining games without him just to book a spot in the bottom half of the eight.
"It doesn't look good…. He'll obviously have to have scans," Taylor said of the early prognosis following the last-gasp 19-18 loss at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"We don't know there's no Tedesco yet but it does look that way. But absolutely [we can make the finals without him]."
Taylor pointed to the efforts of the team in the final 20 minutes to score two tries and level up despite Tedesco's absence.
"We were still well behind when James went off. The guys really rallied so there's no reason the guys can't do that. Jordan Rankin was superb [filling in at fullback].
"The confidence is still high. We've got to dust ourselves off and get on with it."
In a piece of brighter news Taylor was expecting halfback Luke Brooks to be available for next Friday's must-win match against the Panthers.
"Brooksy's looking good, he's done a few training session this week. He'll need to do a couple more. He's looking promising for Friday night," Taylor said.