Roosters coach Trent Robinson fears Brett Morris may have played his last game after the champion winger suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in the final minutes of his team’s 38-4 rout of Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
Morris and prop Lindsay Collins, who suffered a similar injury to his right knee, were both helped from field in the dying stages and scans on Sunday confirmed neither player would be fit again this year.
In the case of Morris, the 34-year-old former NSW and Australian winger whose tally of 176 tries ranks him behind only Ken Irvine, Billy Slater and Steve Menzies on the all-time list, it could also mean the end of his career.
The injuries, particularly to Morris, created a sad and sombre mood in the Roosters’ dressing-room despite their seven-tries-to-one thumping of the out-classed Knights.
“Shattering is the word. It’s really disappointing,” Robinson said.
“It was a really, really tough night for us. I think they’re both the same, from what I know. They’re both knees and won’t be back again this year.
“It’s one of the proudest and worst sheds I’ve been in. That’s what it was.
“We’ve got a group of guys that really care for each other and love playing together and we’re really proud of the way that we’re playing, then you’ve got a guy that’s a legend of our game, one of the best wingers that we’ve seen, and he’s possibly just finished his career.
Match: Knights v Roosters
Round 8 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
“It’s just flattening, extremely flattening, and it’s hard to explain. The game tonight pales into insignificance about how you feel about Brett, and obviously Lindsay as well.”
With the result well and truly decided, Morris clutched at his right knee as he was tackled into touch by Newcastle outside backs Bradman Best and Brayden Musgrove in the 77th minute.
He could be heard screaming in agony through sideline effects mikes as he awaited medical attention.
Helped by Roosters trainers, he hobbled from the eastern side of the field behind the northern dead-ball line towards the visitors’ dressing-sheds.
He was only a few steps away as his twin brother Josh completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute, and they shared a tearful embrace in the sheds later.
Robinson indicated Morris declined a lift off the field on a medicab, preferring to leave on his own two feet because “boys, for the most part, don’t like medicabs”.
Shattered Robinson describes flattening night
The Roosters have already had to deal with an injury crisis this year, losing Jake Friend to retirement after multiple concussions and playmaker Luke Keary to a season-ending torn ACL.
Captain Boyd Cordner (concussion protocols) is yet to play this season and James Tedesco sat out the game against Newcastle after suffering concussion against the Dragons on Anzac Day.
“Footy rolls on, so we’ll get back to it, and we’ve got guys that haven’t played that need to come in and play and do their job,” Robinson said.
“No-one ever gets a fairytale. Jake didn’t get one, Brett didn’t get one, but they also did.
“If it is that case, we’ll confirm that, but they also did get fairytales in the way that their career was played. I’d like to think there’s a chance that it won’t be what we think it is, but it’s a sad night for us.”
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Collins, who had emerged as one of the Roosters’ pack leaders this season, grabbed at his right knee and was helped off just three minutes before Morris departed.
“He’s come in to really lead the way in the pack there for us this year and he’s been very dominant, so he’ll be missed, but someone will rise,” Robinson said.
Knights coach Adam O'Brien, who worked with Morris and Collins as an assistant at the Roosters in their 2019 premiership-winning campaign, went to the visitors' sheds to give both players his best wishes.
"I'm not too sure what it is but it doesn't look great, though," O'Brien said.
"I never want to see that for any player but BMoz, he's a great bloke, and I hope Lindsay's OK too.
"It's not looking great, obviously, from the vision I've seen, but I don't want to see that with anyone. I've been on the receiving end as a coach and I feel for those guys."
As Morris and Collins head for scans and follow-up examinations in the next few days, Robinson will weigh up his options to replace them for the game against Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium next Friday night.
Seventeen-year-old Joseph Suaalii, who sat on the bench as 18th man against Newcastle, is one of several players to be considered but is no certainty.
“There’s no ‘have-tos’ there. He’s been playing really well in reserves, and there’s going to be opportunities there for guys,” the coach said.
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“[Matt] Ikuvalu’s done a really good job, Teddy’s to come back, we’ve got Billy Smith there that needs to get right, so we’ve got some players who will come and play.
“Look, I don’t think it’s the time. There’s great interest in him (Suaalii), for good reason, but I don’t think tonight’s the night to talk about that.”
Another teen sensation, halfback Sam Walker, only enhanced his reputation as a potential superstar with another match-winning performance against the Knights.
In just his fifth NRL game, the 18-year-old halfback scored a try, had four try assists with the final kick or pass, and had a hand or foot in the build-up to the other two.
Walker also kicked five goals from even attempts for his own haul of 14 points to lead the Roosters to their sixth win from eight starts this season.