Star Warriors signing Addin Fonua-Blake is facing several months on the sidelines in a brutal blow to the Kiwi club's front-row stocks.
The best-case scenario for Fonua-Blake's return is in 6-8 weeks, though it could potentially take longer as well.
Coach Nathan Brown could not confirm the exact nature of Fonua-Blake's knee issues or injury time frame on Wednesday with further specialist assessments to take place this week.
Fonua-Blake's recruitment was a coup for Brown and he underlined it with some impressive first-up performances after his abrupt exit from Manly.
"It's at least a 6-8 week injury from what we know but from what I understand there's a couple of bits of different damage in there," Brown said on Wednesday.
"It's certainly not a short-term injury that's for sure.
"When he came on the market I was very, very happy to get him. They don't come on the market every day with Addin's talent and his age.
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"But in the next few weeks we've got a number of middles coming back so it just gives other people an opportunity to step up. But any time a club loses a player of that quality it will have an effect."
Fonua-Blake's injury suffered against the Roosters comes on top of a one-week shoulder charge suspension to fellow prop Bunty Afoa.
A reshuffled pack sees Tohu Harris start at prop and Kane Evans come onto the bench for his first Warriors outing against the Sea Eagles on Friday.
Evans was another high-profile signing for Brown's first campaign in charge of the Warriors, but the ex-Eels forward has bided his time on the fringe of first grade for the opening month.
He turned out for Newcastle's NSW Cup side last week after COVID-19 restrictions ruled him out of playing for the Warriors own feeder side Redcliffe.
Evans and Fonua-Blake were schoolboy teammates but both he and Brown stressed it will take a collective effort to fill the void of one of the NRL's elite props.
"Addin's a front-rower, it's not like we develop our style of attack based on what Addin does, but he certainly helps our offence with how he carries the ball," Brown said.
"He's got a beautiful offload. But basically the only way for us to replace Addin is collectively as a group of forwards.
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"That's the only way, they all just pick up a little bit of slack. Not anyone's going to come in and do what Addin does, otherwise they would have already been in the team as well."
As one of the game's tallest players, Evans has always caught the eye in attack.
But having built up match fitness over the past month, Evans says he has focused on his efforts without the ball since joining the Warriors late last year.
"I love defence, I used to be an attacking-based player but I've really changed the way I think and I just want to try and get the boys up with line speed and marker play," Evans said.
"Just bring that energy in a sense, that's what I want to bring this year.
"To change to a defensive mindset, you've got to be more selfless and worry about the hard things."