The Cronulla Sharks have been rocked by an enormous injury blow less than a fortnight from the start of the NRL trials, and a month out from the season, with Kade Dykes tearing his ACL on his 21st birthday.
The Sharks, who are currently in a training camp ahead of their first trial against the Newcastle Knights on February 10 in Gosford, sent Dykes for scans after he suffered a knee injury on Tuesday.
Cronulla released a statement on Wednesday to confirm the news.
'The 21-year-old local junior ruptured his ACL during a field session while in camp with the NRL squad in Wollongong and will now meet with surgeons in the coming days to determine the next course of action.
It has been confirmed that he will not return to play this season.
The injury is a setback for the Sharks ahead of the 2023 season and also a devastating blow for the youngster who impressed playing for the Jets in the NSW Cup and also in his two appearances in the NRL in 2022.'
The timing of the shattering news for Dykes is compounded following confirmation on the same day that Lachlan Miller had been released to the Newcastle Knights.
Miller found himself struggling for game time in 2022 during his first season in the NRL, but impressed during his seven appearances, split between fullback and the wing.
The former rugby sevens star is making the move to Newcastle where he will claim the number one jumper, but the Sharks may now be wishing they never let him go.
Instead of having three first-choice fullbacks, with Dykes previously likely to be in a battle to be the immediate back-up to William Kennedy, Cronulla will now be forced to sweat on the long-term fitness of Kennedy throughout the season.
Should Kennedy be unable to play at any stage, the Sharks will likely be forced to break up their star halves combination of Nicho Hynes and Matt Moylan, with the duo also able to play fullback, which would then bring Braydon Trindall or Connor Tracey into the halves.
Cook Islands international Kayal Iro shapes as another option if Cronulla are forced to dig into their depth.
The Sharks also let Luke Metcalf go over the off-season to the New Zealand Warriors, with the young gun likely another option who could have slot in at number one.