St George Illawarra Dragons centre Mark Gasnier will undergo surgery for a wrist injury according to today's Sydney Morning Herald. An Australian and New South Wales representative, Gasnier damaged ligaments in a training mishap and is likely to miss the start of the 2005 season. He reportedly joins new recruits Michael Ennis and Albert Torrens on the sideline with both players recovering from recent surgery.
A former Manly utility back, Torrens should return to training after the Christmas break but hooker Ennis is in doubt for the start of the 2005 season. With Mark Riddell signing with Parramatta and Lincoln Withers joining Canberra, the Dragons will call on Aaron Gorrell who is set to make a return to first grade for the time since 2002.
"It's not the best news but it is better to have these things happen now than in the middle of the season," Dragons chief executive Peter Doust said.
"Michael Ennis came to us from Newcastle with a shoulder problem we had been trying to manage conservatively, but at the end of the day it was decided that it would be in his best interests if he had a partial reconstruction now and started next season fully fit," said Doust. "Albert Torrens has had an arthroscopy on his knee but he will be OK for the beginning of the season."
Meanwhile half back Mathew Head is still recovering from an illness which continues to disrupt his off-season schedule. Australian representatives, Jason Ryles, Shaun Timmins and Matt Cooper will have medical assessments when the Kangaroos return next Wednesday. Both Ryles and Timmins were hampered by injury whilst on tour.
Gasnier's injury caps off a roller coaster year for the star centre.
After stating that he wasn�t sure if he even wanted to play rugby league, Gasnier bounced back, hitting top form in the opening rounds. He gained selection for the NSW Blues in May but just days before the first State of Origin clash, he was dumped from the squad for his part in leaving offensive mobile phone messages. Following his sacking from the Blues, an apologetic Gasnier was fined $50,000 by the Dragons.
Gasnier continued to find form on the football field and in July, successfully fought his back into the Blues squad in time for Origin III, scoring two tries on what was his NSW debut. But injury struck when it was revealed after the match he had a cracked collarbone.
In the same month, Gasnier agreed to terms with the Dragons after being a refused a release. This followed reports dating back to early 2004 which stated the 23-year-old was being chased by English Super League club Wigan. The day after agreeing to terms with the Dragons, Gasnier compounded his collarbone injury when he fell awkwardly while getting out of a car, effectively sidelining him for the rest of the season. A week later, Gasnier and captain Trent Barrett were involved in a car accident in Wollongong but emerged unhurt.