Cronulla Sharks centre Siosifa Talakai hobbled from the field with just 90 seconds remaining during Sunday's win over the Newcastle Knights.
Talakai appeared to have injured his ankle in the tackle and was left in immediate discomfort on the ground with Mat Croker sliding down his legs and landing on the ankle of the Cronulla centre.
Talakai, who played State of Origin for the New South Wales Blues this year and is also likely to be included in Tonga's squad for the end of year Rugby League World Cup, stayed down before eventually being able to walk very gingerly off the field with the assistance of the trainer who had immediately attended to him.
The tackle saw the young Knights' forward Croker end his season in the sin bin following a review from the NRL's bunker (which was headed up by Adam Gee) and communication with on-field referee Chris Sutton.
Siosifa Talakai off late with a left ankle injury, concern by video for medial/high ankle sprain (syndesmosis injury) with tackler contact causing foot to turn out. Sharks trainer seemed confident severity not too bad, would be lucky considering high force hip-drop mechanism. pic.twitter.com/2ZrY8ahR22
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) September 4, 2022
Making matters worse for the Sharks, who wrapped up second spot and a home qualifying final with the win over Newcastle, is the fact they will likely only have a six-day turnaround before playing the North Queensland Cowboys next weekend.
Fixtures are yet to be confirmed by the NRL, however, with the Panthers believed to be opening the finals on Friday night against the Parramatta Eels, it likely means the Sharks and Cowboys will play on Saturday afternoon in the other qualifying final.
That will leave Talakai racing the clock to be fit for the match, pending the outcoming of a scan he will likely have on Monday morning.
Should he miss the game, then it's likely Connor Tracey would come back into the side, although moving Lachlan Miller to either centre or wing to accommodate the likely return of William Kennedy also remains an option for the black, white and blue.