NRL bans & bumps: Bulging disc casts doubt on Croker’s future, Warriors cop triple blow

The weary body of Jarrod Croker has copped another blow with coach Ricky Stuart revealing the Canberra co-captain has a bulging disc in his spine.

Croker, who underwent stem cell injections in his knee during the off-season in a bid to rejuvenate his 31-year-old body, was a late withdrawal from a NSW Cup match last weekend and won’t play this week as he tries to overcome the back issue.

Having managed just 12 games in 2021 due to shoulder and knee issues, there was speculation Croker might medically retire.

“It’s only hit him in this off-season and it’s something now that we’ve got to overcome,” Stuart said. “I feel the frustration of Toots. “He was very eager to get out there and play last week and I feel the disappointment but we’ve just got to get him right.”

Croker, hooker Josh Hodgson (knee) and halves Brad Schneider (COVID) and Jamal Fogarty (knee) are sidelined for Saturday’s Townsville tussle with the Cowboys.

“As a club we’re really in unprecedented waters at the moment,” Stuart said. “It’s a difficult period because we’re getting a lot of injuries, COVID at the top grades and we’re actually getting a number of injuries down around our lower grades right down to our 19s. We’re right down on numbers.”

As the Sharks indicated last month, veteran lock Cameron McInnes is expected to make his comeback from his long-term knee injury in Round 2 for Saturday’s return to PointsBet Stadium against Parramatta.

The Warriors are have lost three key players after their Round 1 loss to the Dragons with Shaun Johnson set to miss a month and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Viliami Vailea both ruled out for the foreseeable future.

Johnson has torn a pec and will not feature until Round 5 at the earliest. Early reports are that it is only a minor strain but the newly-returned Kiwi international will still be out for a month.

DWZ has broken his left thumb and will miss as much as two months, while Vailea has injured his MCL and is set for at least a month on the sidelines.

Penrith has lost key forward Moses Leota for 8-10 weeks as the Samoa international was revealed to have fractured his shoulder in the Panthers’ opening night victory over the Sea Eagles. Leota suffered the injury late in the game and was withdrawn with just 30 seconds left on the clock. The damage is to his shoulder socket and will require extensive rehabilitation.

Parramatta Eels winger Sean Russell had a bittersweet season opener, scoring three first half tries but injuring himself as he completed his hat-trick. Russell was caught by Titans fullback Jayden Campbell in the act of scoring and was hospitalised.

Later scans have revealed that Russell fractured several ribs and punctured his lung in the incident. He will be out indefinitely. Campbell has escaped any punishment for his part.

Cowboys hooker Jake Granville, who was put on report in the 57th minute, has escaped a ban and will instead cop a $1,000 fine after submitting an early guilty plea on a Grade 1 dangerous contact charge.

The Bunnies have confirmed that Blake Taaffe will miss a month after rolling his ankle during the captain’s run before their opening clash with Brisbane on Friday night. The fullback had been set to deputise for the suspended Latrell Mitchell, but was scratched at the last minute.

Storm prop Christian Welch is hoping to be back this year but the season is over for George Jennings after a horror injury toll in their win over the Wests Tigers. Kiwi forward Brandon Smith is also facing 3-6 weeks out with a broken hand. Jennings has a torn ACL while Welch, who ruptured his Achilles in the dying stages of the match, took to social media to put his injury into perspective.

Canterbury lost four players to concussions during Sunday night’s 6-4 win over the Cowboys with Chris Patolo, centres Braidon Burns and Brent Naden, and Jeremy Marshall-King to head knocks during the game, activating 18th player Aaron Schoupp.

Manly’s Karl Lawton only lasted two minutes in his season debut after copping a heavy knock against the Panthers.

Lawton, who came off the interchange bench in the 28-6 loss to Penrith, got his head into an awkward position while trying to make a tackle and was taken from the field and did not return. He will need to pass the concussion protocols to be able to play next Friday against the Roosters at the SCG.

Roosters lock Victor Radley (concussion) needs to pass the protocols to play in Round 2 while rake Sam Verrills (thumb) is likely to be out until Round 4.

NRL injuries and suspensions, team by team


Tesi Niu (hamstring, Round 2)
Thomas Flegler (suspended, Round 4)
Xavier Willison (knee, mid-season)


Tevita Pangai jnr (hamstring, Round 2)
Chris Patolo (concussion, Round 2)
Jeremy Marshall-King (concussion, Round 2)
Brent Naden (concussion, Round 2)
Braidon Burns (concussion, Round 2)
Raymond Faitala-Mariner (foot, Round 2-3)
Matt Doorey (knee, mid-season)


Reuben Cotter (hamstring, Round 2-3)
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (knee, Round 3-4)
Ben Hampton (hamstring, Round 3-4)
Lachlan Burr (hip – early retirement)


Billy Burns (foot, Round 3-4)
Jayden Sullivan (hamstring (Round 3-4)
Aaron Woods (hamstring, Round 4-5)
Max Feagai (ankle, indefinite)
Josh McGuire (suspended, Round 6)


Ryan Matterson (hamstring, Round 4-5)
Sean Russell (ribs, lung indefinite)
Maika Sivo (knee, June-July)
Haze Dunster (knee, season)


Daniel Saifiti (leg, Round 2-3)
Sauaso Sue (suspended, Round 3)
Jayden Brailey (Achilles, June-July)
Bailey Hodgson (elbow, indefinite)
Hymel Hunt (knee, indefinite)


Nathan Cleary (shoulder, Round 4)
Mavrik Geyer (elbow, TBC)
Moses Leota (shoulder, Round 9-11)


Liam Knight (ankle, Round 5)
Blake Taaffe (ankle, Round 5)


Brad Schneider (COVID, Round 3)
Jarrod Croker (back, TBC)
Peter Hola (knee, Round 2-4)
Jordan Rapana (suspended, Round 3)
Josh Hodgson (knee, Round 4-5)
Jamal Fogarty (knee, Round 15)
Harley Smith-Shields (ACL, season)


Victor Radley (concussion, Round 2)
Sam Verrills (thumb, Round 5-6)
Joseph Suaalii (foot, Round 3-4)

Joseph Suaalii of the Roosters

Joseph Suaalii. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Sea Eagles

Karl Lawton (concussion, Round 2-3)
Dylan Walker (leg, Round 2)
Josh Schuster (ankle, Round 3-5)
Ben Trbojevic (knee, Round 3-5)
Josh Aloiai (suspended, Round 4)


Connor Tracey (groin, Round 2-3)
Cameron McInnes (knee, Round 2-3)
Jack Williams (knee, Round 3)
Braydon Trindall (suspended, Round 3)
Wade Graham (ankle, Round 4-6)


Cooper Johns (shoulder, Round 3-5)
Brandon Smith (hand, Round 4-7)
Christian Welch (Achilles, season)
George Jennings (knee, season)
Tui Kamikamica (stood down)

Adam Doueihi of the Tigers converts the try

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Jacob Liddle (knee, Round 4-6)
Adam Doueihi (knee, Round 8-14)
Tommy Talau (knee, mid-season)
Asu Kepaoa (pectoral, mid-season)
Shawn Blore (ACL, season)


Joe Vuna (knee, mid-season)


Viliami Vailea (knee, Round 5)
Shaun Johnson (pec, Round 5)
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (thumb, Round 9-11)
Tohu Harris (knee, June-July)

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