A week after losing experienced front-rower Bunty Afoa to a season-ending ACL injury, the New Zealand Warriors face a nervous wait to find out the extent of prop Jackson Frei's knee injury suffered in Saturday's 18-16 trial loss to Melbourne.
Frei had to be assisted from the field after collapsing under heavy contact from former Warrior Albert Vete 14 minutes into the game. He did not return.
While uncapped at NRL level, Frei was likely to be in the mix for a bench spot following Afoa's injury, and any lay-off would put further strain on the club's already stretched front-rower stocks.
Kearney wouldn't speculate on the severity of Frei's injury post-match but had already turned his mind to contingency plans, while confirming rookie forward Phillip Makatoa also suffered a high ankle sprain against the Storm.
"It's very early to say, but it's a knee injury … I can't predict it, it's very hard to do here," Kearney said of Frei.
"We will get some pictures taken of it as quick as we can and hopefully it's some positive news. We will just have to wait and see.
Match Highlights: Warriors v Storm
"There's not much you can do, we have just got to solider on. No one is going to feel sorry for us because we potentially could have a couple of knee injuries [to props]. What it will do is give other guys an opportunity.
"Isaiah Papali'i, the idea is to push him through the middle [this year], Jamayne Taunoa-Brown is playing in the Indigenous game, so we will just see how those guys pull up."
The Warriors had two late scratchings ahead of the Storm match, with versatile back Taane Milne failing to overcome a head knock sustained at the NRL Nines in Perth, and prop Sam Lisone forced to return to Auckland for personal reasons.
On a more positive note for the Warriors both Karl Lawton and off-season recruit Wayde Egan emerged unscathed from their first games following shoulder surgery.
Versatile Adam Keighran started the match in Palmerston North at hooker, before Lawton took over in the second quarter and Egan had a run in the third quarter.
Egan was hopeful both he and Lawton will now be selected for next Sunday's final trial against the Wests Tigers in Rotorua, which will likely decide who gets the start at dummy-half for the round one match against Newcastle.
"It's good fun tussling with your mates to get spots, so that [trial] will be fun," Egan told NRL.com.
"Hopefully I play next week, I think all the big guns will be back so I'll get the chance to play with the likes of Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] and Blairy [Adam Blair], so it'll be good.
"The first day I got here I was in the rehab group with Karl, so from November until now we have been on the same journey and it's been nice to have someone in the same boat as me.
"It was good to get the cobwebs out and test the shoulder out. All in all I am pretty happy with the game."