The St George Illawarra Dragons' slim finals hopes seem to have taken their final hit following a loss to the Penrith Panthers on Friday night, with Andrew McCullough and Blake Lawrie now both tipped to miss the remainder of 2021.
The Dragons have confirmed the news is already the worst possible for McCullough, who suffered an ankle injury and will have surgery on Tuesday, according to a club statement.
The veteran hooker joins Ben Hunt on the sidelines, with half of the Dragons first-choice spine now out for the remainder of the season.
They will be joined on the sidelines by man-mountain front rower Blake Lawrie who broken his hand in the opening minutes against the Panthers, although he still managed to play 49 minutes of the contest.
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It's understood Lawrie is still a chance of playing again this season, although the result of that will hinge on follow up appointments with doctors later this week.
He is unlikely to play in this weekend's clash with the Sydney Roosters, which forms part of an incredibly tough run home for the Red V, a final round clash against the Rabbitohs also to follow with matches against the Panthers, Rabbitohs and Raiders in the last three weeks.
The Dragons have stumbled out of the top eight on the back of five straight losses, their finals hopes all but evaporated despite being just two points out of the top eight.
Billy Brittain is likely to start at hooker for McCullough in this week's clash, while either Josh Kerr or Kaide Ellis could come into the front row, with Daniel Alvaro, Hayden Lomax, Jaiyden Hunt or Poasa Faamausili most likely to join the bench.