Manu in fitness race for season opener after suffering new facial injury

A fresh facial injury has forced Joey Manu out of the All Stars match – and he will also potentially miss the Sydney Roosters’ historic opening-round clash against NRL newcomers Redcliffe.

Manu was injured during an opposed session at a training camp in Queenstown.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the injury was a “small fracture”, but would not require surgery.

When pushed on Manu’s availability for the first round, Robinson said via text: “It’s too early to tell.”

Manu suffered shocking facial injuries when collected by Latrell Mitchell during a regular-season game in 2021. It ended his season as well as Mitchell’s, who was suspended for six matches. The Roosters star required three metal plates and 12 bolts following the collision.

Joey Manu has picked up a small fracture in his face and is no certainty to play in round one.Credit:NRL Imagery

Manu, 26, is a centre by trade but also a strong back-up five-eighth and fullback option for Easts.

Joining him in the casualty ward for next Saturday’s All Stars game is Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who “had a flare-up” of a lower back and hamstring complaint.

The All Stars game would have been a special homecoming for Manu. It is set to be played in Rotorua, less than an hour up the road from Tokoroa, where he was raised.

The scratchings of Manu and Waerea-Hargreaves come on the back of Josh Addo-Carr’s withdrawal from the Indigenous All Stars side, which was reported first by the Herald on Friday.

Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould told The Sun-Herald that Addo-Carr’s omission had nothing to do with injury.

“He has only been training for three weeks – he is not ready to play,” Gould said. “As per the RLPA policy they have enforced, players have to have a certain amount of time off between seasons. Clubs have no say in the matter.

“It was always going to be an issue with the World Cup ending late last year, and then trying to fit in an All Stars game early in February.”

The NRL confirmed early on Saturday Brisbane’s Ezra Mam, Penrith’s Chris Smith and Wests Tigers’ Will Smith will also skip the All Stars game. Daine Laurie, Albert Kelly and Isaiah Tass will be their replacements.

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