Canterbury Bulldogs young gun Karl Oloapu is facing a career-defining decision over a neck injury.

It was revealed earlier this week that he withdrew from Samoa's two Tests in their Pacific Cup tri-series against New Zealand and Australia due to neck pain, and News Corp then reported he may need surgery on his neck.

Also revealed was the fact Oloapu played through most of the 2023 season in pain. That was evident when he was rested from certain games through the back end of the year as the Bulldogs attempted to manage a player they have long-term plans in place for.

His rookie NRL season came after a controversial off-season move from the Brisbane Broncos where the Bulldogs paid big money in a transfer to secure his services.

The club's director of football Phil Gould has regularly raved about the talents of Oloapu, and has also confirmed he sees him transitioning out of the halves and into a lock forward role.

All of that is currently on hold though as the young gun, his family and the club deal with the news that he may need surgery on his neck that could ultimately leave him sidelined for 12 months.

It is now believed, according to the same publication, that the issue has been caused by pressure on a disc or discs in his neck and back which usually requires surgery.

According to the report, Oloapu has already had two specialist appointments and will have a third next week to determine if he will proceed to surgery on the neck.

Even without surgery, it's unclear if the youngster will be available for Round 1 next year when Cameron Ciraldo's squad begin a campaign that will be aiming to turn around a disastrous 2023 that ended in a 15th-place finish.

The Bulldogs are understood to be fully behind Oloapu, who is on contract with the club until the end of the 2026 campaign.