Star Penrith winger Josh Mansour's NRL season might be over after suffering facial fractures in the Panthers' win over Gold Coast.
The 27-year-old will have to undergo complex surgery on his cheek. He left hospital earlier this week after a number of checks.
Penrith are hanging onto slim hope that Mansour might be fit to return within three months, depending on the outcome of the surgery, however it's understood a season on the sidelines is far more likely.
It comes as a massive blow to Mansour, who had missed the start of last year after a serious knee injury.
The Kangaroos' winger is off contract at the end of this year, and had been hoping to earn a potential pay rise at Penrith or elsewhere with another boom season.
Part of that would have included playing a starring role in NSW's State of Origin series. But those hopes are officially dashed.
Mansour's operation is understood to be so complicated that a number of specialists will need to be present as they virtually open his face up to inspect and fix the damage.
The injury is also a significant hit to Penrith, already down on backline stocks.
The winger's injury return last year helped to kickstart a Panthers' revival, after they'd dropped seven of their opening 11 games without him.
Australian Associated Press