Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita is hopeful of overcoming a five-day turnaround to be fit for the Sharks' next match after limping from PointsBet Stadium with a hamstring injury during the 30-16 loss to Sydney Roosters.
With the Sharks due to host Penrith on Thursday night, Fifita will be racing the clock to play and coach John Morris fears he could have more than 1,000 games of NRL experience sitting on the sideline as rep stars Paul Gallen, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods and Wade Graham were unavailable to play the Roosters.
Of those four, only Gallen is any chance of being fit to play the Panthers and Fifita is in doubt after clutching at his right hamstring while running in support of hooker Jayden Brailey late in the match.
The Tongan international said he was confident of playing but would need to undergo scans to determine the extent of the injury and Morris admitted the short turnaround could count against Fifita.
“We will have to hold our breath with that one, particularly with the short turnaround,” Morris said. “Hopefully it is not as bad as they think.
“I think with him being out it takes us to 1,000 games being out. With Gallen, Woods, Graham and Moylan already out our depth is going to be tested yet again but that’s footy. Someone will come in and put their hand up.”
Teenage centre Bronson Xerri, who made his debut last week, had a mixed night playing opposite Roosters superstar Latrell Mitchell.
Xerri ran 114 metres with the ball and made three tackle breaks but he finished the match with four errors, including two dropped passes from second-rower Briton Nikora which could have led to tries.
“I haven’t seen that in his game at all in the pre-season, his ball handling has been very good," Morris said.
“If he takes two or three of those catches he is probably scoring a try or setting one up. They were clean line breaks, but that’s footy. He will be back next week and I know he was disappointed but there were a lot of other things going wrong other than the ones he put down.”
Morris called for his players to improve their discipline after committing 14 errors against the Roosters and he admitted his frustration at Shaun Johnson’s decision to kick from a scrum win 30 seconds before halftime which led to a try by Mitchell after the siren.
“It was just a really bad play, a really bad decision, we didn’t react well to it, we got our pants pulled down and we went to halftime with our heads down,” Morris said.
“When he kicked it I was like 'why did we do that', then we had one play to defend and one of my messages before the game was to compete on every single play tonight. If you don’t, that’s what happens. It was just a silly play but the game was not lost there.
“I think we are probably the worst in the comp for errors. We have only had one game where we have had less than 10 errors but we are still No.1 in the comp for line breaks so we are at potent team at times. It was just some schoolboy errors.
“We just couldn’t defend our errors well and we have done that pretty well in the past at this club so we have got to address that quickly.
“Some blokes have got their heads down with their own individual performances so I will be looking to see a spark next week out of those blokes.”