Sonny Bill Williams, widely rated as the world's best forward, will be out of New Zealand's autumn tour of Britain if fears of abroken arm are confirmed.
Williams did the damage making a tackle for his Australian club, the Canterbury Bulldogs, in their NRL elimination play-off against Parramatta. The Bulldogs lost 25-6 but the worry for the new Kiwi coach, Gary Kemble, is that the injury will prevent the uniquely talented back-rower from getting on the plane next month.
Williams went off in the first half at the Telstra Stadium with what was at first thought to be severe bruising. The medical opinion then swung towards a possible break of the forearm but he still returned briefly in the second half, with the arm heavily strapped, to try to pull the game out of the fire.
He will now have a scan to determine the precise extent of the damage but, given the Bulldogs' traditional reluctance to risk players in internationals, Kemble must already fear the worst.
He has known for several weeks that he will be without the other great young Kiwi talent, Benji Marshall. The Wests Tigers stand-off has been ruled outuntil next year for a shoulder reconstruction.
The better news for Kemble was a dynamic performance for Parramatta by another of his young stars, Krishnan Inu, who was outstanding on the wing for the Eels after making his Kiwi debut against Australia at full-back earlier this season.
His side's victory means that they go to Melbourne to play the league-leading Storm next weekend, with the winners going through to the Grand Final.
The North Queensland Cowboys host the New Zealand Warriors today for the right to visit second-placed Manly next week in the other half of the draw.
The Cowboys, with the former Super League brains trust of the former Leeds coach, Graham Murray, and Ian Millward (ex-St Helens and Wigan) at the helm, should use their home advantage to squeeze through, but the Warriors' late-season form – again built on the wealth of young Kiwi talent – has been impressive.Reuse content