Des Hasler’s return to Manly’s coaching hot seat has turned into a horror show with NSW Blues incumbent Tom Trbojevic racing the clock to be fit for round one.
A hamstring injury to Trbojevic is expected to keep him sidelined for up to a month, while big men Kelepi Tanginoa and Taniela Paseka also face four weeks on the sidelines after being forced off in Saturday’s 28-22 loss to Cronulla.
"Taniela and Kelepi, they're knee injuries. They'll have scans but it's at least a month on the sidelines," Hasler said.
"Tom Trbojevic's injury is a hamstring so it's about a month as well.
"Not the best of starts to lose two front-rowers and a fullback. But other players will step up and take their place."
Asked whether Trbojevic would be fit Manly's season opener against Wests Tigers, Hasler said: "Tom works very hard on injuries in particular but hamstrings are just such a tricky one".
NRL journeyman Brendan Elliott replaced the younger Trbojevic at fullback when he limped from the field shortly before halftime.
Hasler indicated that Elliott looms as Trbojevic’s most likely replacement at the back if the gun No.1 is not fit for the trip to Leichhardt on March 16.
Brother Jake also left Shark Park in a moon boot but assured reporters it was just a precautionary measure.
Manly host the Roosters next week on the Central Coast in their final trial match.
Veteran playmaker Trent Hodkinson partnered Daly Cherry-Evans at the scrumbase for much of the loss to the Sharks, but Hasler said ex-Titans half Kane Elgey would get his chance to impress against the premiers next Saturday.
The Sea Eagles had delayed naming their trial side, which ended up being a 30-man squad, until two hours before kick-off in a bid to ease speculation about Dylan Walker's availability.
The marquee centre is due back in Manly local court next week on domestic violence charges, but took his place on the right edge against Cronulla, threatening throughout a see-sawing contest.