The Canberra Raiders could soon be robbed of another international star with Josh Hodgson set to undergo scans on a suspected broken thumb.
The star hooker missed the second half of the Green Machine's 22-16 defeat at the hands of the North Queensland Cowboys and left Canberra Stadium with his right hand in a cast on Sunday.
His impending absence would be a tough pill to swallow for an outfit that has gone "backwards" and slipped outside the NRL's top four having dropped four of their past five matches.
The club is sweating on scan results that will likely keep Hodgson sidelined for the coming weeks alongside international trio John Bateman, Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will turn to Siliva Havili to fill the void at hooker, but the frustrated Canberra mentor says Hodgson's absence was not why they lost to the Cowboys.
"It doesn't help your cause when you're losing your best players. I hope it is only two or three [weeks], I don't know what the extent is yet. That's Liva's job, he's got to step in and fill Josh's boots," Stuart said.
"I don't see many positives out of that game at all. We let ourselves down, very much so. We talked about the benchmark we were setting for ourselves, and improving, and we went backwards.
"We've put the work in to cover those [injuries], it's been happening for the past four weeks to us. We've had to keep covering those positions with our guys who are substituting for them."
But Canberra's attack struggled to find any rhythm without Hodgson, leaving Havili and halves duo Sam Williams and Jack Wighton to shoulder a bigger load for the foreseeable future.
The timing of Hodgson's injury concern is far from ideal for the Raiders, who are likely to lose Josh Papalii for next week's clash with Canterbury as he firms for Queensland selection, with the Maroons squad to be named on Monday.
They may yet be without one or two more if Jack Wighton or Nick Cotric are called into the NSW squad on Sunday night.
Hodgson's potential stint on the sidelines comes just days before Bateman prepares to resume a full training program, while Rapana is expected to return from a knee injury over the coming two to three weeks.
Leilua's neck injury is almost certainly season-ending in a devastating blow for a star centre Stuart believes would have been selected in Brad Fittler's Blues squad if fit.
Canberra bombed an early opportunity when Michael Oldfield's pass escaped the outstretched arms of Sam Williams inside the opening three minutes.
North Queensland made the home side pay when Jake Granville found himself in open pasture to send Tom Opacic over the line.
Then Canberra's new-look flanks kicked into gear as Wighton put Bailey Simonsson over moments before Michael Oldfield built on his impressive try-scoring rate on the other wing.
But the Green Machine still trailed at the break thanks to a Justin O'Neill try - his eighth in as many outings this season - and would not regain the lead without Hodgson there to steer the ship.
AT A GLANCE
NRL round 11:
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 22 (Tom Opacic, Justin O'Neill, Kyle Feldt tries; Jordan Kahu 5 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 16 (Bailey Simonsson, Michael Oldfield, Siliva Havili tries; Jarrod Croker 2 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Crowd: 14,647.