The Sea Eagles have been made to withdraw rookie hooker Manase Fainu from making his debut against the Dragons this Saturday after the NRL did not grant the club an injury exemption.
Fainu, 19, was selected to face St George Illawarra in Wollongong, but the NRL had not cleared him to play. The NRL declined Manly’s exemption request, on the grounds that they had three fit hookers, Jackson Hastings, Lewis Brown and Matt Wright, on their list.
Manly re-applied for their exemption, disputing that Fainu is a hooker, Hastings is being used a five-eighth for Blacktown Workers, while Brown and Wright are utility types.
Hastings was not selected to play this week, while a foot injury to dummy half Api Koroisau further depletes the team’s hooker syocks.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett is now faced with a selection headache, with Brown the most likely to fill in the no. 19 jersey this Saturday.
“The NRL has said no at the moment so we’ve just got to wear that and move forward,” Manly chief executive Lyall Gorman told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s their right to say no and they have. I will never get frustrated or disappointed over interpretations of the rules.
“We all know what they are. We put up a case for exemption and it will either be approved or knocked back so there’s no point throwing your toys out of the cot.
“You just have to get on with business.
“We are already at 30 players otherwise we could have moved him (Fainu) straight in. We play under the rules and regulations.”
An NRL spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: “The player is currently a development player. In order for him to play in the Telstra Premiership the Club would need to request an exemption based on the circumstances, or alternatively upgrade the player’s contract.”