On the same day as they unveiled their 27-man squad for the 2020 NRL season, champions Sydney Roosters suffered an early body blow to their plans.
Head coach Trent Robinson confirmed that young gun centre Billy Smith had suffered a suspected ACL injury which is expected to rule him out of the World Club Challenge showdown against St Helens next month.
It’s a cruel twist of fate for the 20 year-old outside back after a 2019 season in which he made his NRL debut, scoring two tries in two games.
Smith had been talked up all pre-season by Roosters' officials with his spot at left centre nearly guaranteed.
However, the injury will likely see Brett Morris shift to left centre and English international Ryan Hall coming onto the right wing.
Better news for the Roosters is that Joseph Manu, Jared Waerea and Siosiua Taukeaiho have all signed new contracts.
Squad: Mitchell Aubusson, Fletcher Baker, Egan Butcher, Nat Butcher, Lindsay Collins, Boyd Corder, Angus Crichton, Poasa Fa'amausili. Kyle Flanagan, Jake Friend, Ryan Hall, Drew Hutchinson, Matt Ikuvalu, Luke Keary, Asu Kepaoa, Lachlan Lam, Issac Liu, Joseph Manu, Brett Morris, Victor Radley, Billy Smith, Siosiua Taukeiaho, James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou, Sitili Tupouniua, Sam Verrills, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves