Roosters co-captain Jake Friend is facing up to four months on the sidelines after playing on with a ruptured biceps that dashes his long-awaited rise into the Origin arena.
Scans in the aftermath of Friend's match-winning Anzac Day performance against the Dragons have confirmed his lengthy injury, a cruel blow to the Tricolours' title defence.
He will now require surgery on his right arm, with a typical 3-4 month recovery time ruling him out of contention for an anticipated Queensland debut.
With the Roosters' 20-10 victory over St George Illawarra going down to the wire, Friend pushed through the particularly painful injury to return for the final eight minutes of the contest.
It was Friend's 77th-minute kick chase tackle on Matt Dufty that forced a critical error from the Dragons No.1, allowing teammate Siosiua Taukeiaho to score the match-sealing try moments later.
"That's what make Jake Friend the player he is," Cooper Cronk said of his teammate playing through the pain barrier.
"He can do the 40-20 or try assist. You can watch any game of Jake's career and he cleans up a lot of mess for our footy club. He makes other players look better in defence and attack because he does the little things that make our job easier.
"Jake is similar to me, if someone told me an injury was six weeks long, then I would try and be back in three or four. That's the work Jake will put into it."
The Anzac Day clash was Friend's first in a month due to an ongoing shoulder concern, but the 29-year-old played himself into the reckoning for the Maroons No.9 jersey with a stellar return from injury.
Match Highlights: Roosters v Dragons
Coach Trent Robinson revealed after full-time that Friend had hobbled through most of the match with a minor ankle injury.
Queensland's obvious dummy-half options boil down to incumbent rake Andrew McCullough and Test utility Ben Hunt.
But McCullough's performances at the struggling Broncos have come under the microscope of late while Hunt also had an afternoon to forget at the SCG.
The Dragons half registered three errors before a shoulder cork forced him from the field with the match in the balance though the club was confident after the game that Hunt's injury was not serious.
At club level the Roosters have rising star Victor Radley to fall back on as a No.9 option, giving him a regular hooking role and chance to further his claims as the Blues bench utility.
"In terms of Victor, I'm sure he will do his job," Cronk said.
"He's probably a little bit more bull out of the gate in terms of his his energy and physical pressure with defence.
"But playing the hooker position he has the skill set to do it, the fitness capabilities to get through it and he's proven he can handle the step up in work rate."
Match: Roosters v Dragons
Round 7 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS