We’re not even in the same year as the new season yet, and clubs are already starting to lose players through injury.
Leeds confirmed on Wednesday that England prop Mikolaj Oledzki and new signing Luke Hooley will miss the start of the season through injury.
Coach Rohan Smith told the club’s official website: “It is never ideal when players have to have surgery but we are fortunate on the whole with our group that very few players are in that position ahead of the 2023 season.
“It is a long season, and especially when you consider the amount of minutes Mik played last year, it will not do him any harm looking at the bigger picture to have some extra time off the field.”
Warrington prop James Harrison has suffered a minor knee injury in training, though that is unlikely to rule him out any longer than the festive period break. That’s the only fresh injury concern for the Wolves, who are already without young centre Connor Wrench for several months with an ACL injury.
New Hull KR centre Tom Opacic is still recovering from an arm injury and is undergoing rehab ahead of their season opener against Wigan, which will be shown live on Channel 4.
For Salford, Kallum Watkins faces a race against time to be fit for the new season after the shoulder and bicep injury he suffered playing for England.
But there is better news for a group of players from St Helens and Wigan, who were forced to sit out the World Cup through injury.
Warriors back-rower Liam Farrell and St Helens pair Lewis Dodd and Alex Walmsley have returned to training.
Down Under, NRL superstars Ryan Papenhuyzen and Tom Trbojevic are also facing a battle to be fit in time for the new season.
Melbourne full-back Papenhuyzen suffered a horror knee injury back in July, and is said to be touch and go for their season opener against Parramatta on March 2.
Storm head of football Frank Ponissi told SEN: “It was a major injury where he had multiple fractures in his kneecap, so for the first few months he basically couldn’t do anything at all. He’s just building his leg up now, but he’s nowhere near ready for full training at this stage.
“We start the season in early March, so it’s going to be touch and go, and we certainly won’t rush him for round 1. If he’s right to play then we’ll play him, otherwise we’ll hold him off until he’s 100 per cent ready.”
Trbojevic suffered a hamstring injury at Manly training earlier this week, the latest in a line of injury frustrations for the Australia international.
That is expected to keep him out for between six to eight weeks, as the Sea Eagles prepare for their season opener against Canterbury Bulldogs.
Another full-back, St George-Illawarra Dragons’ Cody Ramsey, is also on the sidelines – with no official timeline on his return after he was hospitalised with a rare bowel condition.
Ramsey’s mum told the Daily Telegraph: “The doctor originally said he might need surgery and it could end his footy career. I’ve never seen him so sick and in so much pain.
“Fortunately he’s progressing now and we’re hopeful he’ll be OK to play again next season. He’s a tough cookie and he’ll hopefully be back in the new year.”
Papua New Guinea international winger Xavier Coates is still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained at the World Cup.
Former State of Origin centre Brenko Lee has suffered a calf injury in pre-season too as he prepares for the Dolphins historic NRL debut against Sydney Roosters.
He’s expected to return to fitness in time for that one, but will miss six weeks of training.