NRL Finals: Injury Factor

NRL Finals Week 2, 2007

While we have talked about the referees and their impact on the outcome of the NRL 2007 Premiership, as a long season draws to a close injuries start to play a huge part in your teams chances of glory in a few weeks time.

Today we have a look at each remaining team and examine their casualty ward:

Melbourne Storm:
The no.1 side in the NRL has been able to rest and rotate several players in the lead-up to the finals. This luxury has seen them keep most players not only healthy, but fresh. With Steve Turner successfully returning from some injury concerns, their only worry is Greg Inglis. While Inglis is a superstar, they have Matt Geyer as an able replacement should Inglis have any problems. Have superior depth to cover any losses anyway. Week off again gives them an edge in terms of injury and freshness.
Injury Meter: Low

Manly Sea Eagles:
The boys from Brookvale have been hit hard in the past 2-3 weeks by injuries and are doing their best to keep some of the problems in-house. Obvious problems for Chris Hicks and Glenn Stewart will see them race the clock and use the fortnight break to their advantage. Brent Kite should make it back ok, but ideally they would have liked more game time for Kite. The medical report on Brent Kite suggests ‘severe tear’ to his groin muscle; even if he makes it back for Manly’s next game – surely there is some risk. With Matt Orford also suffering chest problems, Manly really need the additional week off. Depth is starting to get tested, the likes of Cuthbertson are answering the call well so far – coach Des Hasler would surely be quietly worried about the growing hospital ward at Brookvale.
Injury Meter: High

North Queensland Cowboys:
Their injury problems have been hovering all season: Luke O’Donnell, Steve Southern, Shane Tronc and Carl Webb – all gone. While Webb is hoping for a speedy recovery to his quad problems – the forward pack is starting to look very flimsy for the Cowboys. Without the go forward, naturally Thurston and Bowen cannot weave their magic. While they play at home this week – the Warriors big and aggressive pack will really test their mettle. Injuries at the Cowboys are widespread enough to threaten their campaign – as their depth is already strained in the forwards. Very fortunate to have secured a second home game, otherwise would have been cannon fodder in foreign territory. If they win this week, week 3 becomes mission impossible for them.
Injury Meter: High

Parramatta Eels:
Eels centre Ben Smith has succumbed to a knee injury and has been forced out of this weeks match against the Bulldogs. A crucial loss for the Eels, as Smith a noted defender – was set to mark Sonny Bill Williams and try to contain the Dogs superstar. Halfback Tim Smith is also in cotton wool, with on-going shoulder problems consigning him to end of season surgery. The no.7 continuing to play with some discomfort, but may be targeted in games ahead. Depth looks ok at this stage – incoming Joel Reddy forces a backline reshuffle, with Kris Inu likely to move into centres. Reshuffle may take edge from previous combinations.
Injury Meter: Medium

Bulldogs:
Seemed to have got all their injuries out of the way leading up to the finals. They now boast a fresh Sonny Bill Williams along with dynamic duo Willie Mason and Mark O’Meley. The return of Matt Utai has also boosted their muscle and speed on the flank. Behind Melbourne and the Warriors, they are probably the next healthiest team. While depth isn’t fantastic for the Dogs – as this stage they don’t need it. When Sonny Bill fires up, it usually spurs on the like Willie Mason and Co. Playing out of their home ground, they will like their chances; regardless of previous form. Only concern has been the continuing poor form of Hazem El Masri’s goal kicking.
Injury Meter: Low

NZ Warriors:
Have been a healthy side all year. Their lack of injuries has seen the current squad build a good rapport and take down some big name oppositions. Were unlucky in the first final against the Eels, showed good enthusiasm – just lacked experience. Will be better for the run and will absolutely test the Cowboys on Sunday. Apart from Manu Vatuvei they are mostly problem free. Also boast some depth should injuries arise in weeks ahead.
Injury Meter: Low

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