Manly players and officials praised Matthew Wright for his 65 minute-stint at dummy half as the Sea Eagles were presented with a hooking crisis following the loss of Api Koroisau with a suspected broken foot.
Koroisau limped from AMI Stadium in Christchurch in just the 15th minute of Saturday night's 34-14 loss to the Warriors and Wright was the only replacement on the interchange able to play dummy half.
Koroisau had his right foot in an orthapedic boot and was on crutches as he left the ground, with Manly coach Trent Barrett fearing the worst.
“It’s not looking great, it is possibly a broken foot,” Barrett said. “We are hoping it’s not that.”
Former New Zealand international Lewis Brown is a possible replacement for Koroisau in next weekend’s match against St George Illawarra but Wright was the only option available to Barrett in the Warriors clash.
The Sea Eagles led 8-0 when Koroisau was forced from the field but conceded 34 unanswered points before centre Brian Kelly scored in the 72nd minute.
“We were on top at the time but we have had a bit of bad luck this year with injuries,” Kelly said. “Big wraps to Matty Wright, he played the rest of the game at hooker so good on him.”
Barrett also refused to blame the loss of Koroisau for the defeat and praised Wright, who is usually a centre or winger.
“Losing Api was a big blow for us but fundamental mistakes and concentration lapses at crucial times hurt us in the end and they (Warriors) played well,” Barrett said.
“Api is one of our best players, not only from an attacking point of view but defensively. He holds our line speed pretty well.
“I thought Matty Wright to play 65 minutes at hooker did a good job for us but we obviously missed Api.”
Barrett was pleased with the way the Sea Eagles started the match but defensive errors proved costly and Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson and hooker Issac Luke ran amok in the second half.
“At 12-8 at half time we were travelling alright and just ran out of puff in the end, I suppose,” Barrett said.
“Issac Luke tore us to pieces in the middle of the ruck, their back five were good and Johnson was pretty handy as well. They have got a lot of good players and they are in the top four for a reason.”
Meanwhile, Barrett said he had reluctantly decided to stand down centre Moses Suli after he failed to complete a training session in Sydney while the rest of the team were in Christchurch.
The Sea Eagles picked up Suli this season after he was shown the door by Wests Tigers and Canterbury for disciplinary reasons but Barrett said there had been no previous issues at Manly.
“Moses had a passport issue and subsequently missed a training session back home,” Barrett said. “He has been really good, but it is a call I had to make. Moses isn’t going to improve if we don’t make those calls on him.
“I want him to be a 10-year first grader and if I let him get away with little things like that he isn’t going to learn anything. It hurt him and it hurt the team as well.
“He has been really good, he hasn’t missed a beat. This is the first one and it is only a minor thing. He has got so much ability, he will get through it. He is a good kid and a good player but I have got to help him by making those calls.”