Wests Tigers are running out of outside backs, with five top players unavailable for the squad to play St George Illawarra on Sunday.
Chris Lawrence is the latest casualty after hurtingan ankle on the Tigers' 46-18 win over Canterbury last weekend. He joins James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Braith Anasta and Tim Moltzen on the sidelines.
Lawrence's injury will keep him out for at least a month while Anasta and Nofoaluma will miss the rest of the season.
Another man down: Chris Lawrence is the latest member of the Wests Tigers list of injured outside backs. Photo: Getty Images
As the club's injury toll mounts, former winger Marika Koroibete celebrated his mid-year switch to the Storm with another try in Melbourne's 30-8 win against Brisbane on Friday night.
Because of Lawrence’s injury back-rower Bodene Thompson will switch to the centres and Dene Halatau will start in the second row.
Any further injuries to the Tigers' outside backs will alarm coach Mick Potter, with Kurtis Rowe the only back in the NSW Cup team with NRL experience.
“We’ve lost quite a few,” Potter said. “You have your injuries at times. It’s not such a good time to have a run of injuries. The people coming in are doing a stellar job.
“We’d have to massage it around our squad.
“We are very thin on the ground, the injuries we’ve had in the outside backs. You can’t have a squad of a million. Unfortunately our injuries haven’t been spread around. They are in the outside backs.
“I’m not even contemplating [further injuries] until we have to worry about it.”
The Tigers have already sought salary cap relief because of Liam Fulton’s sudden retirement and have made inquiries with the NRL should their backs continue to fall.
The Tigers face a Benji Marshall-led St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium on Sunday. It will be the former Kiwi captain's first appearance against his former club.
“We haven’t focused much on Benji but he is one of their kick-starters for their attack,” Potter said.
“He kicks the ball as much as Gareth Widdop and is one of their main players. He has steadily progressed since he has been at the Dragons.
“He has added some real value with them. He makes them a better team. He hasn’t lost what he had. Let's hope he doesn’t have his best game.
“I’d imagine there will be some banter [between Marshall and the Tigers players] and a little bit of attention to each other. I’m sure it’ll be in good fun.”
A win for the Tigers will enable them to jump Brisbane and into the top eight. Potter has called on his side to back up arguably their best performance of the season last week when they raced in nine tries to upset the Bulldogs.
“We are a team that’s building,” Potter said. “Our big issue is having back to back performances and continuing that on. That’s the challenge for us is to build that.
“The boys built pressure and controlled the football. The other team got more fatigued and came up with more errors. The momentum of the game shifted for us really well in the second half and it related into points. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. We weren’t fortunate, we worked hard to get it. It’s good to be on the giving instead of receiving side.”
Potter’s future is expected to be decided when the club’s board meets on Thursday night.