Michael Maguire confirmed Daine Laurie had suffered a broken leg but vowed the Wests Tigers would "fight" for a finals miracle after capitulating against the Warriors.
Leading 10-0 at half-time, despite rookie of the year contender Laurie going down in the second minute after being bent in a three-man tackle, the Tigers conceded three quick tries following the break before losing 18-16.
The loss to the brave, injury-stricken Warriors leaves the Tigers two points adrift of the top eight - but the seventh, eighth and ninth-placed teams are yet to play this weekend and could extend the gap.
"First half they stuck to the plan, they didn't build the pressure in the second half and invited the opposition back in the game," coach Maguire said post-match at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Match: Wests Tigers v Warriors
Round 20 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
"We're all very disappointed. It was a big moment for all of us. You work every week to continually give yourself an opportunity and the second half was definitely not the style that we planned."
Losing Laurie, their fullback and most dangerous attacking weapon, was a setback but Maguire didn't use it as an excuse. Moses Mbye set up a try and scored another as Laurie's replacement.
"Moses went back and in the first half we showed what we were capable of doing. We put on some simple tries and we built the pressure, which is what rugby league is all about," Maguire said.
Scans on Saturday will determine if Laurie's season is over.
"He'll have to go to hospital and get [the leg] looked at. I haven't spoken to the doctor, but there's a bit of work to do there," he said.
Maguire lamented the "simple tries" his team leaked to Warriors centre-turned-second-rower Euan Aitken and prop Bunty Afoa, saying: "Two shoulders turning out and they went through".
Aitken bagged his double in rare circumstances, cleverly pouncing on a short drop-out just as it passed the 10-metre line and enjoying a clear passage to the try-line in the 56th minute.
Tigers five-eighth Adam Doueihi stepped his way to the line to trim the margin but an overturned try to halfback Luke Brooks, who had dashed away after a Peta Hiku kick deflected off his bicep, and some questionable game management decisions consigned Maguire's team to defeat.
With the game in the balance, the Tigers bizarrely failed to pick up the ball from dummy-half on the last tackle as they pressed for a try, allowing Reece Walsh to steal possession on his goal-line.
"It got frantic. Everyone was trying, but you've got to concentrate on that moment in time. You've got to get your dummy-half to the play-the-ball or someone needs to jump in," Maguire said.
Maguire confirms broken leg blow for Laurie and Wests Tigers
But the coach isn't ready to write the season off.
"We've got an opportunity to play next week and put ourselves back into potential finals contention. It makes it hard, but that's the position we're in," he said of their upcoming clash with the Bulldogs.
"We'll fight and we'll do everything possible to make sure that we get our chances next week."