THE Knights could be without one of their key signings for the start of the 2017 season after revealing that Rory Kostjasyn spent the weekend in hospital with a throat injury.
According to a club statement, Kostjasyn was injured on Saturday after “accidental contact” at training.
He reportedly required immediate hospital attention but was released on Monday, after suffering a fracture in the Cricoid cartilage in his neck.
He did not require surgery but the club statement said the former North Queensland and Melbourne hooker “will be reassessed in four to six weeks to determine a return date to training” and was expected to be sidelined “for a minimum of six to eight weeks”.
Newcastle’s first match of their 2017 campaign is against the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium on March 5, almost nine weeks away.
Kostjasyn appears certain to miss the Auckland Nines (February 4-5) and Newcastle’s only top-grade trial, against Canberra at Seiffert Oval on February 18.
A seasoned campaigner with 126 NRL games under his name, including the Cowboys’ 2015 grand final triumph, Kostjasyn was shaping as a crucial part of Newcastle’s rebuilding plans.
He was named recently in the club’s leadership group and was likely to be one of the first players chosen each week. Since his top-grade debut for Melbourne in 2010, he has been a resilient character. In the past three seasons for the Cowboys, he played in 80 games and missed only five.
Fortunately for Knights coach Nathan Brown, there are several other dummy-half alternatives in Danny Levi, Tyler Randell and possibly Jarrod Mullen, who deputised as a stopgap hooker in Newcastle’s last-round loss to St George Illawarra last year.
AAP reports: Melbourne veteran Billy Slater will take a major step in his highly-anticipated NRL comeback when he begins full contact work on his reconstructed shoulder next week.
Slater has been on the comeback trail since re-aggravating a shoulder issue in the opening game of the 2016 season that shut down his entire campaign.
The former Australian and Queensland star has played just eight games in two years.
Last year's No.1 Cameron Munster has been training at five-eighth to make way for the former Test fullback.