Manly Sea Eagles utility Lachlan Croker has suffered a hamstring injury at training, according to Nine's The Mole.
It is expected to sideline the 24-year old for the opening rounds of the new season in a bitter blow for Des Hasler's team.
Croker was slated to start the season as hooker for Manly but the club will now need to make other plans.
Incumbent No. 9 Manase Fainu is currently suspended indefinitely under the NRL's 'no fault' stand-down policy related to an alleged stabbing incident.
Croker has made 34 NRL appearances since making his first-grade debut in 2016, playing his first season at Canberra.
He played all 20 games for Manly in 2020.
— The Mole (@9_Moley) February 25, 2021
It follows news earlier in the week that star fullback Tom Trbojevic suffered a hamstring setback that will rule him out for the start of the season.
The Sea Eagles confirmed that Trbojevic sustained a grade two tear in his right hamstring, likely ruling him out for the opening month of the season.
“I’m devasted by what’s happened. I will be working hard with the rehab team to get the hamstring right,’’ Trbojevic told the club website.
The Sea Eagles open their 2021 season against the Roosters on Saturday March 15 at the SCG.