KEY signing Rory Kostjasyn may be forced to retire before he has even played a game for the Newcastle Knights.
Knights coach Nathan Brown admitted at Friday’s post-match press conference that the former Melbourne and North Queensland utility was facing an uncertain future after fracturing the cricoid (cartilage) in his throat in a pre-season training accident.
The injury occurred in January and, despite two bouts of surgery, it remains unclear when, or if, the 29-year-old will be cleared to resume.
“I’d say it’s indefinite,’’ Brown said.
“We’re not sure, to be honest with you. We’re not sure if he’ll come back in two weeks, or four weeks, or if he’ll come back. We don’t know at this stage. But it’s not positive at the moment.’’
Asked to clarify that Kostjasyn might be incapable of playing again, Brown replied: “That would be a possibility.”
Brown said the absence of Kostjasyn and former Manly utility Jamie Buhrer, who fractured a foot at training last week, had been compounded by the drugs suspension that has prevented veteran five-eighth Jarrod Mullen from playing this season.
“We’re in a situation we’re we’ve got our two most experienced players – and the two players that have got any sort of profile that we brought to the club this year – unfortunately Rory hasn’t played yet and Jamie’s had what happened to Jamie,’’ he said.
“And the Mullo situation. Mullo’s our highest-paid player and we’re still paying him, and he can’t play.
“He plays an important position and we came into the year a long way under the cap, deliberately because we wanted to get in the market place with all the high-profile players coming off contract for next year.
“It certainly tells at pressure times.’’
Asked when the Mullen situation would be resolved, Brown replied: “I wouldn’t have a clue. I don’t know.”
Kostjaysn has played 126 games in the NRL. He featured in the Cowboys’ 2015 grand final-winning team and was a regular in Melbourne’s squad when they won the 2012 premiership.
He signed a two-year contract with Newcastle last October.
Meanwhile, Brown remains confident of landing a big name for next season despite missing out on Cronulla star Jack Bird, who signed last week for Brisbane.
"We'll get our knockbacks along the way because of where we are as a club,’’ Brown said.
“That's just part of building, starting from where we are.
"But we're confident we'll certainly enhance the squad a lot for next year … the key is finding the right ones for us.
“Obviously a Jack Bird, he ticks all the boxes. He's obviously got a lot of good years in him still.
"We certainly know the types of players we need, we'll just keep working hard to try and attract them. You just gotta dust yourself off, come back into the market and look at the next one.”
"There's plenty of good players on the market, and as I said, there's plenty of clubs that may need to move people to do what they need to do as well."