Melbourne Storm back-rower Tohu Harris is set to miss the opening two months of the season after scans revealed a stress fracture in his left foot.
The New Zealand international is looking at an eight-week layoff after suffering the injury in Melbourne's trial game against the Bulldogs in Hobart.
The Storm take on the Bulldogs once again in their Round 1 Telstra Premiership clash in Sydney.
"He's had a sore foot for a little bit and we thought it was part of an ankle injury but it wasn't so he's in a boot for a little bit and it will take him a while to get back," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
That leaves the Storm without either of their second-rowers from last year's grand final, with Kevin Proctor now playing with Gold Coast.
Meanwhile, Bellamy confirmed star fullback Billy Slater would miss the opening rounds of the season as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.
"We're really happy with the way it's progressing but I'm pretty sure he won't be playing the first couple of rounds," Bellamy said.
"We've waited a long time so we're not going to take any risks with him physically or mentally."
The absence of Slater means Bellamy must decide between shifting his first choice five-eighth Cameron Munster back to fullback, which he so ably covered last year, or trying to get his new halves combination settled.
Munster will move into the No.6 jersey this season following the departure of Blake Green to Manly.
Injuries aside, Bellamy said he felt his team were in good shape ahead of Round 1.
"The trials have been pretty good - we were a bit unhappy with our first 20 minutes last week but the boys fought back strongly in the second half."