Cronulla's hooking stocks take a battering
It wasn't that long ago that the Sharks had an embarrassment of riches at hooker, but now the defending premiers are on the back foot with four of their first-choice rakes unavailable for next week's clash with the high-flying Roosters.
Rookie No.9 Jayden Brailey has played in all 15 matches this season but is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines after Sharks coach Shane Flanagan confirmed the 21-year-old had broken his jaw in the 35-18 loss to Manly on Sunday afternoon.
Brailey suffered the nasty injury in the 48th minute while attempting to make a tackle and was rushed straight to hospital with his coach revealing the worst-case outcome in the post-match media conference.
Daniel Mortimer – who produced the match-winning play on club debut last week – would have been next cab off the rank but is set to link up with Super League side Leigh Centurions in the coming days.
The Sharks recently allowed Manaia Cherrington to join the Warriors on a mid-season release and are set to be without star signing James Segeyaro for at least another week as he continues to recover from a broken arm suffered in the Round 6 win over the Storm.
"He's not ready next week," Flanagan replied when asked about Segeyaro's possible return date.
"We've got the bye [in Round 18] and he'll be back after that. We're just going to have to do our best over the next couple of weeks and hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later."
Flanagan also confirmed Mortimer's departure after an injury-plagued stint in the Shire.
"He's got a two-and-a-half year deal with Leigh and we wish him well there," he said.
"It's unfortunate that he didn't play more games for us this year because he did his knee earlier in the year and he's done a great job since he's been back.
"He's getting to the point of his career where he's got an opportunity for two-and-a-half years over there and we've given him the opportunity to take that up."
Fa'amanu Brown looms as the logical option at dummy-half for the Roosters game with Joseph Paulo capable of deputising if called upon, while Flanagan could go left field and hand Blayke Brailey an NRL debut given his impressive form in the NYC.