Tigers struggle to find fit team
By Josh Massoud From: The Daily Telegraph August 25, 2009 12:01AM
EIGHTY minutes of carnage has left Wests Tigers’ finals hopes in tatters, with the joint venture struggling to find 17 fit troops for Saturday night’s season-defining mission on the Gold Coast.
Up to eight top-liners who played in last Friday’s brutal 26-18 loss to Parramatta are in serious doubt for the Titans blockbuster, a one-off injury toll that long-serving Tigers doctor Donald Kuah last night described as the worst he could recall.
As barnstorming winger Taniela Tuiaki had season-ending surgery on his badly broken leg, the collateral damage became worse and worse for Wests yesterday. The three-quarterline has been acutely hit, with centre Chris Lawrence the only member of the back five who is guaranteed a start this weekend.
Beau Ryan (knee), Tim Moltzen (collarbone) and Blake Ayshford (foot) are all in danger of joining Tuiaki on the injured list, which already includes speedsters Shannon Gallant (leg), Peni Tagive (shoulder) and Blake Lazurus (knee).
The story up front is equally dire with Chris Heighington (knee) and Keith Galloway (hand) receiving scans and treatment respectively.
Worsening the engine-room plight, Bryce Gibbs faces a two-week suspension after being charged with dangerous contact yesterday, while veteran prop John Skandalis will also be closely monitored for a leg injury that had him in extreme doubt for the Parramatta game.
Speaking amid the chaos of scans and appointments in his Sydney Olympic Park rooms, Kuah could not remember the Tigers suffering a bigger injury toll from a single game.
"I’ve been working here for seven seasons and this is basically the worst I’ve seen after a game,’’ Kuah said. "Put it this way - it’s the busiest I’ve been. I didn’t get to see much of the game (on Friday night).’’
Kuah said he was awaiting scans from Moltzen, Ryan and Heighington to determine how long each would be sidelined. But even prior to receiving the final verdicts last night, he wasn’t confident of seeing the trio in action this weekend.
"I’m waiting to hear back but Beau Ryan probably has a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee,’’ Kuah said. "Tim Moltzen possibly has a clavicle [collarbone] fracture and we’re awaiting a CAT scan. And Chris Heighington copped a fairly nasty bump on his right knee, so we’ve gotten scans on him as well.
"None are long-term or will require surgery, but it’s fair to say the boys are in doubt for this weekend.’’
Kuah’s day was made worse when both Ayshford and Galloway came to see him with foot and hand injuries.