Manly rocked by brutal injury blow as Cooper Cronk calls out truth about Tom Trbojevic

Tolu Koula has been ruled out for a month with an MCL sprain.

Manly will have to weigh up whether or not to fast-track Tom Trbojevic back into the No.1 jersey after Tolu Koula was ruled out for a month following the Sea Eagles' golden-point win over North Queensland on Saturday night. Koula pulled up with knee soreness following the match and is set to be sidelined for four weeks with an MCL sprain.

Koula suffered the injury just five minutes into the game and had his knee strapped up, allowing him to bravely finish out the match. Despite the injury, he was still among Manly's best in the win, running for 289 metres and busting seven tackles, setting up a second-half try with a linebreak downfield.

Pictured Tom Trbojevic left and right Manly celebrate Tolu Koula try
Manly will weigh up whether or not to fast track Tom Trbojevic back into the No.1 jersey after Tolu Koula was ruled out for up to a month. Image: Getty

The excitement machine had only just been moved to the fullback role to allow Trbojevic to return from a hamstring injury at centre. And the Sea Eagles will now have to decide whether to move Trbojevic back to fullback or reinstate Lehi Hopoate, who came off the bench as a utility on Saturday night.

According to The Daily Telegraph Manly are set to resist the temptation to rush Trbojevic to the back and will name Hopoate at fullback for this weekend's crucial clash with the Newcastle Knights. Manly will also be without skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and front-row leader Jake Trbojevic through Origin for the match against the Knights. But in a boost, the club expect winger Jason Saab will be fit for Sunday's encounter after his calf issues were only believed to be cramps against the Cowboys.

NRL legend Cooper Cronk believes the only chance Manly have of winning a premiership in the coming years is to play Trbojevic at fullback. “If Manly want a genuine chance of winning a trophy at some stage, Turbo has got to be the fullback,” Cronk said on Fox League.

“If they want to take down the big teams, he has to be at fullback.” After being sidelined since round 10 with a hamstring injury, Trbojevic returned on the weekend to an unfamiliar centre role. However, he has played the position for the Blues in State of Origin.

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Despite his much-hyped return, it was quite an underwhelming display. While the main point would have been for him to get through unscathed, which he did, Trbojevic looked well below his best and struggled with his match fitness. The Manly star can be one of the most damaging players in the NRL on his day but he was starved of good ball in the centres and looked a little lost.

Long-term Manly cannot afford to waste their best player out wide as he needs to be getting his hands on the ball as much as possible. The move to centre was done solely to attempt to prolong his injury-prone career and give coach Anthony Seibold a chance to plan for life after Trbojevic but it is something they will need to reconsider if they can't get him involved more in attack.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 06: Tom Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles runs during the round 18 NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Manly Sea Eagles at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on July 06, 2024, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Tom Trbojevic can be one of the most damaging players in the NRL on his day but was starved of good ball in the centres.

with AAP