ROOKIE utility back Peter Mata’utia could be sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering a cracked larynx playing for Newcastle’s NSW Cup team on Sunday.
Mata’utia, who has played in six NRL games, has undergone surgery and faces an indefinite recovery period.
‘‘He got hit in a tackle, an accidental elbow, and started coughing up blood,’’ his agent, Chris Haddad, said yesterday.
‘‘He’ll spend the next three or four days in hospital and see how he recovers.
‘‘It’s a similar injury to what Darren Lockyer had.’’
Mata’utia, the eldest of four outstanding brothers who are all on Newcastle’s books, made his NRL debut last season and showed enough promise to earn a two-year contract extension.
The 21-year-old was expected to kick on this year, but a knee injury in the pre-season hindered his preparations and his only top-grade appearance has been against Canberra in round 14, when he produced a display he would prefer to forget.
Newcastle’s other main injury concern from the weekend, debutant forward Kyle O’Donnell, was recovering at home after being knocked senseless by South Sydney’s Sam Burgess on Sunday.
O’Donnell was heavily concussed by a high-speed head clash and spent several hours in hospital. He is expected to be stood down for at least a week as a precautionary measure.
Knights high-performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said yesterday the 21-year-old was ‘‘pretty doughy’’ and would be guided by the club’s medical experts.
‘‘He got a pretty good head knock, so we’re not going to take any risks with that,’’ Hickmans said.
‘‘There’s not a lot we can do, he’s all fine and discharged [from hospital], and he’s just got to go through the processes ... it just depends on how he pulls up and what feedback we get from the doctors.’’
Teammate Chris Houston sympathised with O’Donnell, whose first taste of NRL action lasted only seven minutes.
‘‘I’m pretty sure the hit was legal, and I’m pretty sure it’s something he’ll learn from,’’ Houston said.
‘‘It was his first game, and he did some really good things before that.
‘‘The NRL, it’s the toughest sport you can play, and he probably learnt that the hard way.
‘‘But he’ll be better for that run when he gets his next chance.’’