Andrew Johns believes Manly star Tom Trbojevic is nowhere near full fitness as doubts surround his involvement for New South Wales in State of Origin.
Trbojevic was playing just his second game back following a serious knee injury. But he was a shadow of his former self as the Sea Eagles crashed to a 38-0 defeat against Brisbane on Friday night.
The gun fullback played with the knee heavily strapped. However Johns questioned whether Trbojevic should have been on the pitch in the first place. Saying it was ‘sad’ to see him struggling.
Trbojevic off the boil
“He’s not fit. It’s sad to see a champion like that playing on one leg,” Johns said during his commentary work with channel 9. “He can’t break tackles. And it’s easy for us to sit here and say ‘he shouldn’t be playing’ – sometimes the decision has to be taken out of his hands.
“The medical staff have to be strong and say ‘no Turbo, you’re not playing.’ It is so sad to see. From the outside looking in it’s sad to see Turbo not being able to compete.”
Speaking with Johnathan Thurston straight after the game Trbojevic played his injury down. “It’s not too bad, I got a couple of knocks elsewhere so we’ll sort that out and be good to go next week,” he said.
Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler also allayed fears when he addressed the media. Hasler said Trbojevic is not up to speed but will get there.
But Johns believes he is way off and pointed to a certain moment in the game. Trbojevic pulled out of a challenge on Broncos star Corey Oates. “That never happens – champion players compete on everything,” Johns added. “It was hard to watch. He’s like 50 per cent fit.”
State of Origin concerns
Fellow NRL legend Darren Lockyer then went on to suggest Origin could be an issue. Game one against Queensland is fast approaching on 8th June. Again Trbojevic says he will be ready but Lockyer was not convinced. He suggested Blues coach Brad Fittler could have a tough decision to make.
“I don’t know if it gets better but at the moment he’s probably at 80 per cent,” he told channel 9. “It would be a big call not to pick Turbo but I just don’t think he’s where he needs to be to be playing Origin right now. He might be in a couple of weeks but right now he’s struggling.”
It is another concern for Fittler who has already lost Ryan Papenhuyzen. Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray are also facing a race to be fit for game one.