Star Manly forwards Jake Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake will miss the first few weeks of the NRL season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Their absence will leave a significant void in the pack in the difficult opening rounds in which they will face Melbourne, the Roosters, Warriors and Raiders.
Jake Trbojevic will miss the first month of the season after shoulder surgery.Credit:AAP
"It's been a bit frantic, but Des [Hasler] has all the boys in shape and whoever he puts out there round one, we'll all have the trust and the faith in them to do the job," Fonua-Blake said on Wednesday.
"We lose two old heads, but you'll have two eager players looking to keep their spot in the team."
Rising forwards Sean Keppie and Haumole Olakau'atu are expected to get their shot in the middle this weekend when the Sea Eagles play Cronulla in a trial at Kogarah.
Keppie and Olakau'atu made their NRL debuts in time for finals as the Sea Eagles struggled with injury towards the end of 2019.
Addin Fonua-Blake led from the front for Manly last season.Credit:AAP
Trbojevic and Fonua-Blake needed surgery at the end of last season but put it off to be able to play for Australia and Tonga respectively.
Fonua-Blake will meet with the surgeon next week and hopes to get the all-clear to return in round two or three, while Trbojevic could be missing until round four.
"I feel fitter this year than I have been previous years. Knowing that I haven't been running I had to change up a lot of things, I couldn't eat the way I usually eat," Fonua-Blake said.
"My weight is good now. As soon as I came back, I hit the ground running.
"Now I'm back in the field doing training with the boys, so hopefully the surgeon has good news for me."
Trbojevic is also back training with the main group but has not progressed to full contact yet and is still building strength.
Meanwhile, Hasler underwent hip surgery over the pre-season but kept in regular contact with support staff, doing video sessions from his hospital bed while he recovered.
Trbojevic said the few weeks without Hasler at training was more relaxed but said the coach had left no stone unturned to prepare the team for another huge season.
"He has everything recorded, so he doesn't miss anything," he laughed.
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