NRL hopefuls dealt crushing blow
Manly's hopes of claiming the 2019 NRL premiership have taken a giant hit with superstar Tom Trbojevic officially ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Trbojevic suffered a ruptured pectoral injury early on in Manly's close loss at the hands of Melbourne Storm on the weekend.
The club had been hopeful of delaying surgery in the hopes of having their superstar player available for finals, but in a statement released on Monday after they confirmed the worst.
"Following a consultation with the specialist today, Tom Trbojevic will undergo surgery on his injured pec on Wednesday, ruling him out for the season," the club advised.
Currently sitting in fifth spot on the ladder, the Sea Eagles have been slowly building for a deep run come finals, but without Trbojevic the task becomes all the more daunting.
Manly will take on sixth placed Parramatta in the final round of the home and away season before the finals commence.
A big win could see the Eels jump ahead of the Sea Eagles on the final standings, while the Sea Eagles can still jump into the top four if they topple the Eels and the Roosters thump the Rabbitohs.
The challenge however will be getting the job done and advancing deep into the finals without Trbojevic.
Numbers provided by Fox Sports Stats lay bare the challenge in front of Des Hasler and his men to go deep into September without their strike weapon.
In 2019, they have an 83.3 per cent (10-2) winning record when Trbojevic is in their line-up but that drops to 36.4 per cent (4-7) when he's missing. Also, their attacking and defensive records are far superior with him at the back.
They average an extra 7.6 points in attack (24.5 compared to 16.9) and concede 3.5 points less (16.3 compared to 19.8) when he's in the side - a difference of 11.1 points.
But Manly are in their element when they're being written off and are relishing the challenge of proving the doubters wrong ahead of Friday's clash with Parramatta.
"When no one's talking about you and don't think you can win, that's when you try to get the job done," Trbojevic's brother and Sea Eagles lock Jake said. "That's exciting for us.
"It's always tough when you lose a quality player, especially leading into the finals. But we'll be right. We've done it before, we did it earlier in the year without him, we've got to take confidence from that.
"Dessie is an experienced coach when it comes to finals, he'll have us in the best shape possible."
Former Sydney Roosters, Newcastle and Gold Coast outside back Brendan Elliot is expected to step into the No.1 jersey for their final-round clash with Parramatta.
"I don't make the decision but Brendan Elliott, the way he's gone this year he'll slot straight in there," Jake said.
"He did a great job when Tom was out earlier in the year."
- with AAP