Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend may not play again until the NRL finals after he needs further surgery on his right arm.
The dual premiership-winning rake is due to enter hospital on Tuesday to have a plate inserted in his right arm.
He damaged the arm early in the 48-10 win over the Knights at the SCG on Saturday. Friend has a small fracture around the screw inserted 12 weeks ago to fix a torn biceps muscle in his arm.
That injury kept him off the field for 10 weeks. He has only been back for two matches but the prognosis for his type of surgery is up to eight weeks. He will have a small metal plate placed over the damaged bone area to strengthen the arm.
There are seven weeks left of the regular 2019 season and the Roosters are sitting in third spot with 11 wins from 18 rounds.
Although Friend is a known quick-healer coach Trent Robinson might be more comfortable in letting him have the full two months to recover so he can bring him in for the first week of the NRL finals, starting September 13.
But the news is still a blow to the 29-year-old, who has only played five games this year.
"Obviously to see him in the sheds after the game, how hurt and disappointed he was, it was hard," his co-captain Boyd Cordner told NRL.com.
"The injury he had before with his bicep, and taking so long, it nearly sent him in insane because he wants to work in play – it's in his DNA.
"So to see him shattered again is disappointing. But he'll be doing everything he can to get it right again.
"He'll be OK. He's a mentally tough human so if anyone can do it, he can."
Back-rower Nat Butcher seems certain to again fill the lock role to allow Victor Radley to move to the No.9 jersey.
North Sydney hooker Sam Verrills will also be vying for that role after his good form in Canterbury Cup. He has already played four NRL matches this season in Friend's absence.
"It's disappointing because Nugget [Friend] is such a great player and the way he's carried himself throughout a difficult year for him has been immense," Butcher said.
"It's a true testimony to his character. He will be a loss for us but we've got full confidence in Rads and young Sammy Verrills.
"We've got faith in them to both step up and do the role as they've did an excellent job before."
And if that means shifting from the second row to lock he's fine with that.
"Lock is a position I enjoy playing. I grew up playing there and came through the ranks there," Butcher said.
"It's where I feel most comfortable at No.13 but it's also where the team needs me and where the coach wants to put me."