Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei will miss the rest of the NRL season as he undergoes shoulder surgery.
With a recovery period of four to six months, the 28-Test Kiwi will also be ruled out of New Zealand’s end-of-year tour of England.
Vatuvei damaged the shoulder earlier in the year, re-injured it against St George Illawarra two rounds ago and sat out the defeat to Penrith last weekend.
Coach Andrew McFadden says Vatuvei underwent scans and saw specialists, and the conclusion is that he should have surgery now.
While the decision is a difficult one, McFadden says it’s in Vatuvei’s best interests.
“Obviously the timing is poor, because we need that experience on the field,” he said.
“But we have to treat each case as it is and this is the best thing for Manu.”
Vatuvei, 29, is the leading try-scorer in Warriors history with 146 in 210 games over 12 NRL seasons.
His unavailability adds to the woes of a club on a five-match losing streak that has dropped them from fourth to 10th on the table.
With three games left, starting with the visit of third-placed North Queensland on Saturday, the Warriors are on the threshold of missing out on play-off football for a fourth season in a row.
They have already been without another star player in Shaun Johnson for the past three weeks after the halfback suffered a season-ending ankle break against Manly.
“It’s a tough competition as it is,” McFadden said.
“Having to deal with these sorts of injuries and to senior members of the squad is a big challenge, but we just have to get on with it.”