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The Vodafone Warriors have today confirmed that prop Ben Matulino will miss the start of the 2017 NRL season due to a knee complaint which requires surgery.

The Kiwis international has had a disrupted pre-season after having an operation on his right knee in September, ruling him out of contention for last year’s Four Nations tournament in England.

Matulino then experienced discomfort in his left knee during training following the Christmas break and after seeking medical advice, he will have an operation in the coming days.

Vodafone Warriors head of athletic performance Balin Cupples said it was an unfortunate setback but that surgery was certainly the right option at this point in the pre-season.

“Unfortunately, Ben injured his left knee at training and it was determined that surgical management would provide the best outcome for him at this stage of the season,” he said.

“It is expected he will return to play early in the 2017 season.”

The news is a blow to new coach Stephen Kearney’s plans for the season ahead but he said it was important for Matulino to get the right treatment.

“It’s disappointing but we are taking a long-term view here,” he said.

“It makes sense to get the knee sorted now. Naturally, Ben’s disappointed but he’ll work hard on his rehab and will undoubtedly be a wonderful addition to the team once he’s recovered.”

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