Canterbury are sweating on the health of its four Covid-19 players after captain Josh Jackson also tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.
Coach Trent Barrett won’t be able to finalise Jackson’s replacement for Saturday’s clash against the Sydney Roosters until Jake Averillo, Brent Naden, Ava Seumanufagai and Reece Hoffman pass the final stages of their return to play protocols.
If Seumanufagai is cleared, the forward is likely to step into the starting side as cover for skipper Jackson, with Jackson Topine an option on the bench.
Naden, Averillo and Seumanufagai missed last weekend’s clash against Brisbane after testing positive to Covid-19.
Barrett said the club would have to apply for further exemptions with the NRL to replace any of the trio if they do not pass return to play protocols.
School teacher Billy Tsikrikas was called into the Barrett’s 17 from outside of the top 30 to make his debut last weekend.
But the Bulldogs will need permission to play the forward again this week.
“They had blood tests this morning, the guys from last week, so we’ll know… they have to get through some protocols this week to get through training. Jacko is ok, he’s a little bit crook,” Barrett said.
“He is our captain, leader and one of our best players. We are going to miss him. It’s been a while since we have had to play without him. Other players will have to pick up the slack.
“We are running out of players, but we have Ava (Seumanufagai) who will be back from Covid depending how he goes today and Billy (Tsikrikas), who played last week… we’ll have to get an exemption to play Billy.”
Titans coach Justin Holbrook has ended the David Fifita centre experiment despite winger Phil Sami being ruled out of Friday’s clash against Penrith.
Sami will sit out the game against the unbeaten Panthers and will be replaced on the wing by Corey Thompson.
Fifita was exposed by the Cowboys at centre in last week’s 30-4 loss and Holbrook will not put him under the microscope again when the Titans host the reigning premiers.
Fifita will shift back to his usual spot in the back-row while AJ Brimson will move from five-eighth to fullback as Holbrook searches for a way to spark the Gold Coast’s floundering season.
The Bulldogs’ misery continues with captain Josh Jackson ruled out of this weekend’s clash due to Covid.
Jackson will miss the club’s Saturday’s match-up with the Roosters at Accor Stadium after he tested positive on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs were ravaged by Covid casualties last weekend with four players — Jake Averillo, Ava Seumanufagai, Reece Hoffman and Brent Naden — all unavailable.
All four players are expected to return to training on Thursday.
Their limited preparation for the must-win clash with the Roosters is far from ideal.
The loss of Jackson comes at the worst possible time for Canterbury.
“Jackson tested himself at home on a day off after feeling unwell,’’ a Bulldogs statement read.
“There are no other cases within the squad at this stage.’’
Meanwhile, Phil Gould has reportedly taken over Bulldogs training as the struggling club looks to break its six-game losing streak.