St George-Illawarra have suffered a major blow to their 2007 campaign, with Mark Gasnier suffering a season-ending injury. The injury soured the Dragons’ 16-14 Charity Shield win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Gasnier had played strongly in his first game at five-eighth and would have been looking ahead to a big season in the No.6 jersey. Coach Nathan Brown had made the decision to switch him to the position following the departure of Trent Barrett at the end of the 2006 campaign.
The injury occurred in the 63rd minute when Gasnier attempted a tackle on South Sydney centre Nigel Vagana. The end result was a torn pectoral muscle which is likely to be season-ending. Former teammate Luke Bailey, who has had the same injury of two occasions, offered some hope, believing Gasnier may be fit enough to return before the end of the season.
"We've got two weeks until the comp starts and the club is probably looking at round 16 or 17 with any luck for Gaz," Bailey said.
"It depends on how quickly you recover. The last time I had to play I had to sign an agreement with the doctor saying I wouldn't sue if it stuffed up because they weren't aware of how long you have to be sidelined for.
"But you can probably push it to four months."
The Dragons broke a drought by winning the Charity Shield in a tough, had-fought encounter. The game was in the balance until an opportunistic intercept from Ben Hornby but the Dragons ahead for good. Gasnier was well involved before the injury, setting up the first try to centre Wes Naqiama.
The injury will certainly make it difficult for the side, particularly in the opening rounds when halfback Matthew Head is also out injured. Coach Nathan Brown was clearly dejected after the game, despite being the winning coach.
"It's a tragedy. He's one of the world's better players so it's big,” he said
"But it's a rough game and we're not going to be the only one to go through it. In the past we've lost key players and gone well.
"We've got Heady (halfback Mathew Head) to come back, which is not until round five. But obviously Heady's a pretty good player."
The following are the results from the other trials played over the weekend.
Cowboys 12 – 14 Manly
Canberra 26 – 4 Tigers
Roosters 30 – 22 Parramatta
Newcastle 12 – 10 Cronulla
Warriors 36 – 6 Bulldogs
Storm 46 – 0 Broncos
Gold Coast 28 – 6 Panthers