NRL Rd 1 - Wests Tigers v Storm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Daine Laurie of the Tigers shapes to pass during the round one NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Melbourne Storm at CommBank Stadium, on March 12, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Wests Tigers have started the season without a win from their first four games, and the mission to turn things around is about to get a whole lot tougher, with Daine Laurie testing positive to COVID.

Laurie was a late exclusion from Sunday's Round 5 clash with the Cronulla Sharks at PointsBet Stadium after testing positive to the virus upon arrival at the ground.

The club confirmed the earlier reports he had contracted the virus in a statement released around an hour before kick-off.

The star fullback was named joint player of the year for the club last year alongside Luke Brooks after an excellent season in a struggling team who wound up in the bottom four.

He has been replaced for the clash with Cronulla at the back by Starford To'a, who had already come into the side at centre for James Roberts.

His spot in the centres is taken by Luke Garner, with Thomas Mikaele selected to join the bench.

It leaves Garner potentially with a long afternoon in front of him as he attempts to defend Siosifa Talakai, although even a switch of sides wouldn't help, with star Jesse Ramien lining up on the other side of the park.

More concerningly for the Tigers if the fact Laurie is now in isolation until next Sunday afternoon.

It means he won't be able to train with his teammates for most of the week, and pending symptoms, could leave him with too short of a turnaround time to run onto CommBank Stadium next Monday for the now traditional long weekend clash with the Parramatta Eels.

Many NRL players have spoken on the impacts of coronavirus during the off-season, detailing that it took far longer than a week to return to full fitness after dealing with the virus.

Should Laurie miss out next week, it could mean To'a is handed a second week in the number one jumper, with the club short on options to replace the former Panther.