Knights star Vuna could miss season

Cooper Vuna Newcastle KnightsDynamic Knights speedster Cooper Vuna will have additional scans and exploratory surgery this week, to see if a season-ending knee operation is needed after initial checks found the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee could be heavily damaged.

Vuna came to grief only 15 minutes into the Knights first trial game, a 25-minute run against Newcastle Rugby League club Central Charlestown in horror conditions at St John Oval last Saturday.

Struggling with the poor conditions, Vuna lost his footing early, his knee collapsing as a 4-man tackle endured, the Knights speedman leaving on a stretcher.

Vuna had an MRI scan at East Maitland yesterday with Knights doctor Neil Halpin confirming a grade-two medial ligament tear and a slight tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.

The Knights and their fans will be hoping for the best case scenario, which might see Vuna back within 6 weeks – meaning he would only sit out a handful of early season NRL games.

If the ACL is found to be further damaged, Vuna would undergo a complete reconstruction – meaning at least 6 months on the sidelines. A horror scenario for both player and club, Vuna would only be available for the semi-finals should the Knights make the Top 8.

“Cooper has a partial tear of his medial ligament, and he’s been reported as having a partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament,” Dr Halpin said.

“What we have to do now will be an arthroscope to assess that because partial can mean a small amount or it can mean a large tear with a piece still hanging on. It’s hard to tell from the MRI, so I really don’t know the full extent of the injury until he has that arthroscope done this week.

“A partial tear of the medial ligament will put him out for six weeks but cruciate damage is obviously much more serious so we’ll have to play that one by ear. We’re not certain that he’ll need major surgery yet, so we’ll see how it turns out when he has the arthroscope.”

Vuna returns to see Halpin again this morning for additional discussion and checks.

“I guess I’ve just got to wait and see what Neil says and just hope that it’s not going to be a tough call maybe the season so I’m hoping for good news,” Vuna told The Herald last night.

The Knights minor hit-outs against local opponents hasn’t been pleasant with Marvin Karawana getting a tooth smashed out and forward Richie Fa’aoso concussion during the game. The side will be hoping for a trouble free run in their next pre-season match against the Storm this Saturday.

Coach Brian Smith will take a squad of approximately 20 players into the match with the Storm at Melbourne’s Princes Park on Saturday night.

In other Knights news, the club has confirmed that Brian Smith has agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2010.

The new deal, to be finalised by the end of the week, is believed to include a performance-based trigger clause that will further extend Smith’s tenure if the Knights reach the top four.

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