Another game, another star player injured for the Canberra Raiders with Nick Cotric to miss Origin II after suffering an ankle injury.
Ricky Stuart's men managed to hold on to secure a vital 22-20 victory over the Cronulla Sharks on Thursday, but not before Cotric hobbled from the field in the 67th minute.
Cotric's ankle twisted gruesomely underneath him in a tackle and despite the worst being feared, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart hopes the NSW Origin rookie will not miss too much game time.
Cotric had scans on Friday, with the Raiders confirming the disappointing news shortly after. Manly star Tom Trbojevic the frontrunner to replace him in the Blues back line.
"It's pretty sore mate, I think I might have done my syndesmosis," Cotric told ABC radio after the match.
The 20-year-old made his State of Origin debut in the Blues' loss to Queensland on June 5.
"I've never seen a season like it in regards to key players getting injured, it's frustrating," Stuart said.
"But we've had to put up with it probably from round five or so when it started to happen to us.
"I just hope we are a little bit fortunate and it's not too bad.
"My hopes are that it's not too bad, we've got a week off and the rep round so let's hope it's a sprain and nothing too much more than that."
Cotric assisted from field after ankle injury
Cotric's absence could be compounded by other star players being picked in representative teams, including Jordan Rapana and Joe Tapine for New Zealand.
The pair only recently returned to action at club level and Stuart said he would not risk losing them again.
"It'll be interesting because I've got some busted blokes at the moment," Stuart said.
"None of them will be playing representative football if they have any injury cloud at all, not one of them.
"There's a number of blokes wounded in there at the moment, I'm all for them playing rep footy but club comes first."
Canberra were forced to grimly hang on for the final 20 minutes of the game despite building an early 20-0 lead.
The final score potentially could have been a blowout against the Sharks, as the home side carved up Cronulla in the opening stages.
"Games turn that way, sometimes they turn into a grind and one opposition has a lot of momentum," Stuart said.
"Same thing happened against the Storm when they had that momentum on us, same thing against the Roosters and we were able to fight our way back into both those games.
"Sometimes you have momentum and you don’t turn into points, tonight we did, and it helped us win.
"We knew they were going to come back, they’re too good a team and too experienced not to."
Stuart: The club comes before representative football
Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker continues to set records at the club and the round 14 clash saw him record another two milestones.
His try in the 23rd minute was the 120th for his career to equal the club record held by Jason Croker.
It was also his 244th NRL game which ranks him second in Raiders history, alongside club legend Laurie Daley.
"He's not underrated in my eyes, he's a huge part of our club," Stuart said of Croker.
"He's a very consistent football player and I always tend to hear about the tries he lets in, but I don't hear about the tries he saved last week and the two tries he saved tonight.
"I see them, and I don’t need to, but the poor bugger doesn't get the accolades I believe he deserves."
Stuart praised the impact of another of his Blues representatives, Jack Wighton, who impressed again at five-eighth against Cronulla.
"He got cranky after he kicked that ball out on the full, I'll have to get him to do that at the start of the game, if he'll finish off games like that," Stuart said of Wighton.
"He's really becoming instrumental in our team's performances through his passages his play and I thought his attack tonight was great."