Veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran’s season is over after suffering a pectoral injury during Saturday’s match against the Gold Coast Titans in Sydney.
The Canterbury Bulldogs were trailing 14-10 in the second half when Foran completed a regulation tackle on Titans fullback Alexander Brimson.
Having scored a try two minutes earlier, the 30-year-old grimaced as he returned to his feet, eventually leaving the field clutching his chest.
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Gold Coast immediately took advantage of their momentary one-player advantage, with winger Anthony Don scoring after a cross-field kick from Corey Thompson.
“Kieran Foran has left the field … he’s done, his day is over,” Brisbane Broncos legend Ben Ikin said on Fox League commentary.
“The Bulldogs are a man short over here on the left, so when the kick goes back, there’s not enough defence there to shut it down.
“The space was identified, and the kick was put in … the job just got a lot harder for the Bulldogs.”
Replays showed Foran’s outstretched arm had been pushed behind his body while completing the tackle, causing the pectoral tear.
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Channel 9 commentator Peter Psaltis tweeted: “What a shame. Hope it’s not serious. Looks like a peck injury. Horrible luck for Foran.”
Unfortunately, Fox League reporter Hannah Hollis confirmed: “He has torn his right pec.
“He is done — certainly for today — done for the rest of the season.
“Given this playmaker is off contract, his future is in jeopardy.”
To make matters worse for the Bulldogs, prop Dylan Napa was taken off the field with a knee injury six minutes before the final siren.
Napa was attempting a tackle on Brimson when his knee collided with Canterbury teammate Matt Dooey’s back in an awkward fashion.
The 27-year-old suffered a medial ligament tear in his knee, and his season is also over.
When asked about Foran after the match, Canterbury coach Steve Georgallis said: “The boys are pretty shattered for him.
“He’s been our best player over the past six weeks.
“It hasn’t been our day today.”
Because Foran has a long history with injury, former NRL star Michael Ennis argued clubs would be hesitant to sign the star five-eighth when his contract expires at the end of the season.
“He’s been such a tough competitor, and today he was outstanding, he really was … he was their best player,” Ennis said on Fox League.
“Given the lack of football that he’s played, it’s a massive risk I think for another club to be able to take him on.
“If his price value is minimal, then you would certainly take that risk given what he has been able to produce when he has been on the field.
“It would be an enormous risk for a club given the injuries that he has sustained over the past few years.”
The Bulldogs eventually lost the round 17 fixture 18-14, but it could have ended differently if a controversial on-field decision had been overturned by the Bunker.
Canterbury were trailing 14-6 just before the break when England international Luke Thompson dived over between the posts after busting through a Moeaki Fotuaika tackle.
Referee Jarrad Maxwell sent the decision upstairs, suspecting Thompson had performed a double-movement in an desperate attempt to reach the tryline.
“Bounce or reach? Felt like a reach to me,” Ikin said.
“It appeared as though his momentum was going to stop him short of the line.”
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Commentator Warren Smith responded: “The ball is under his chin when he hits the ground and ends up under his chin, so not as obvious a call as you would think.
“The point of the ball in the initial call is important and in normal speed he does bounce into the in-goal and the ball is still there under his shoulder and peck.
“A little unlucky potentially right there.”
After several replays, the Bunker eventually decided no try, robbing Thompson of his maiden NRL try, and potentially a much-needed Bulldogs victory.
Canterbury are still searching for their third win of the season, and are in a battle with the Brisbane Broncos for the dreaded wooden spoon.