The Melbourne Storm have been hit by a fresh injury blow, with centre Reimis Smith to miss the remainder of the season.
Smith was working towards a return in the coming weeks after he ruptured his pectoral muscle during a Round 9 win in Melbourne over the St George Illawarra Dragons.
It was the same game that Ryan Papenhuyzen went down with two injuries, the star fullback only managing to return last week after having his own set back in the race to recover when he contracted coronavirus.
Smith was originally supposed to miss between 10 and 12 weeks, meaning that, with the representative round break, he could have been aiming for a return as soon as next week, and had returned to training in anticipation of doing so.
The Storm announced on Tuesday afternoon however that Smith has re-injured the muscle and will now miss the remainder of the season.
Smith, who is contracted until the end of 2024, will now aim for a November return with the rest of the squad for the 2023 pre-season, but said it has been hard watching from the sidelines.
“I was working extremely hard and looking forward to getting back on the field with the guys in the next few weeks but unfortunately we have hit a bit of a hurdle which has set me back. I will do everything that I can to get back and will be here to support the team for the rest of this year,” Smith told club media.
“It has been hard watching from the sidelines , but I have had great support from the club and the fans.”
Smith has been replaced by Marion Seve, who was on a development deal at the start of the year, and has grown into the centre role more and more with each passing week.
Grant Anderson and Dean Ieremia have also been receiving minutes, with Xavier Coates' return from an injury he sustained in State of Origin 1 also approaching.