Norman injury blow compounds Dragons’ pain
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor was on Google Sunday night, looking up the phrase "fractured cheekbone".
And, no, it wasn't good reading.
Especially when you consider his star No. 6 Corey Norman will now be sidelined for up to six weeks after being whacked - or "Sivoed" as Andrew Johns described it on Channel 9 - in a match where the Dragons lost far more than two points.
Smashed by Parramatta winger Maika Sivo as he passed for a try early in the second half, Norman was assisted from the field soon after with what McGregor described as either a "fractured or broken cheekbone".
As for what that means?
First, the Dragons coach suggested youngster Jai Field would likely be called into the halves for their upcoming Magic Round clash with the New Zealand Warriors.
Quizzed on who would replace Norman, McGregor said: "Haven't given it any thought. Although Jai, he's been our 18th man for the past four or five weeks. He's been playing some good footy in reserve grade, so more than likely it'll be young Jai Field."
And as for how long Norman will be sidelined?
"No idea," McGregor said.
"I'll Google it in a minute. Probably four to six weeks."
Which is about right, although the minimum recovery for a fractured cheekbone can be only a fortnight.
Norman now joins a M*A*S*H unit of sidelined Dragons which includes English international Gareth Widdop, NSW Origin forward Jack de Belin, new signing Korbin Sims and, potentially, another Blue in Tyson Frizell.
Already wearing a UFC-style protective cup into games after lacerating a testicle, Frizell was forced from the field early after copping a nasty poke in the eye.
Despite returning to the game, the Dragons No. 11 was again forced off soon after with an injury McGregor said involved a cut, a closed eye and blurred vision. Asked to describe the club's horror run of luck, McGregor said: "Footy gods.
"You're always going to get injuries and suspensions because it's a gladiatorial sport. But it's the calibre of players that are missing, multiple players of that (quality) talent. But I've always said 17 players get the opportunity to go out there and prove themselves and we'll put 17 out there with a point to prove after back-to-back losses."
And as for how his side lost its way so badly after leading 14-0?
"If I had the answer it wouldn't happen again," McGregor said.
He said that while the visitors struggled after Norman left the field, with the game locked at 18-all, there were times before that "where we didn't play to our ability".
McGregor pointed to Eels No. 9 Reed Mahoney diving over from dummy-half to score, and fullback Clint Gutherson breaking from dummy-half and running 75m for a try.
"It's not good enough for this footy team," he said.