The injury crisis at the Sydney Roosters has deepened after Sam Verrills was ruled out of Friday night’s clash against Parramatta with a semi-detached retina.
The injury to hooker Verrills, who has been sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery, comes just days after the Bondi club lost Brett Morris and Lindsay Collins to season-ending knee injuries.
The 22-year-old rake, who had only returned from a knee injury in recent weeks, is understood to have complained of blurred vision after the Knights game, but feared he suffered the injury as early as last week. Ben Marschke will wear the No. 9 jersey for the Roosters against the Eels.
While Brad Arthur’s side may be meeting the Roosters at a good time, the return of skipper James Tedesco means they certainly won’t be underestimating the Tricolours.
The last time Tedesco played against the Eels, he was knocked out by Maika Sivo. He missed the Knights game because of his latest head knock.
Tedesco’s former Wests Tigers teammate Mitchell Moses said said the fullback was still the best player in the NRL.
“He’s the best player in the comp and it’s like he gets better as the years go on,” Moses said. “He can create stuff out of nothing. It’s not just what he does with the ball but what he does with their defensive line.
“At the Tigers, we’d just pass the ball to Teddy and let him create stuff. But his game has gone to another level since he’s gone to the Roosters, it’s a credit to what they’ve done at that club, he walked straight in there and started playing good footy.
“We’ll see where we can get a bit of joy and try to find some space. It’s always hard with him there at the back. He’s a bit like ‘Gutho’ [Clint Gutherson], they both work their backsides off all game and don’t stop moving - it’s hard to find a weakness in their games.
“It was a bad knock he copped [last time] and you don’t want to see your mate in that situation or how he was - ever. But he’s a tough bloke - he’s one of the toughest I played with.”
Moses said teenage halfback Sam Walker had landed at the perfect club to start his first-grade career so young, especially with a forward pack that would protect him well.
The Eels No. 7 said he was in no rush to take up an option in his favour, and still had a week or two to make a call on his future at the club. He said that, contrary to reports, he had not met with the Broncos on the weekend, adding he had enjoyed his football in the blue and gold.
“I’ve left it to my management and have full trust they’ll do right by me - they’re doing right by me behind closed doors - and they’ll let me know when something is done,” he said.
Elsewhere, South Sydney have named Braidon Burns, Steven Marsters and Taane Milne in their backline while Adam Reynolds (thumb) was ruled out for the Thursday night blockbuster against Melbourne. The Storm are still without Ryan Papenhuyzen (shoulder) while Harry Grant has been promoted into the No. 9 jersey.
Wests Tigers cult hero Zac Cini has been retained on the wing for Saturday’s clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Campbelltown, with James Roberts (chest) now likely to be sidelined for a month.
A rested Josh Papalii returns to Canberra’s side, as does halfback George Williams (hamstring), for Saturday’s Wagga game against the Knights.
Josh Aloiai (wrist) and Marty Taupau (concussion) are out for Manly and what will be Tom Trbojevic’s 100th NRL game against the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon at Lottoland.