Melbourne Storm fullback Robbie Ross's horrid run of injury has continued after he was today ruled out of this week's clash with the Raiders due to a bulging disc in his lower back.
After missing the first two games of the year with a hip flexor strain, Ross has played in the Storm's past five matches and looked to be returning to top form, but this latest setback is set to sideline the former Kangaroo fullback for up to a month.
Junior Langi will replace Ross at the back and Fijian flyer Semi Tadulala comes back in to the side on the wing.
“Robbie has a disc injury in his lower back and at this stage it looks like he'll be out for a month,” Storm doctor Greg Hickey said.
“We are awaiting a review by a specialist later in the week and we'll be monitoring his progress closely in that time.”
Ross' back injury was first sighted in 2001 when scans revealed the initial signs of a bulging disc; this latest occurrence is believed to be significantly worse.
“I've had a bulging disc for a while as a lot of players do and sometimes it flairs up with a bit of pressure and stress,” Ross explained.
“I've always been able to manage it throughout the season but something happened last week during training that has stirred it up a bit and on the weekend it obviously got worse to the extent that I'm now struggling a little.”
Ross said he was frustrated at having to miss yet another game through injury, particularly in light of the wretched run of interruptions he's had in recent years.
“It's quite frustrating because I've put five games together and I felt my fitness was getting a lot better and I think the other guys were starting to get a bit of continuity,” Ross added.
“But hopefully it's only a little hurdle and I can wait for the inflammation to go down and get back into it.”
Meanwhile the Storm's injury woes continue to be exacerbated with the news that Rodney Howe's season is over after the former Australian prop underwent a knee reconstruction last night.
Having torn his left anterior cruciate ligament off the bone in round two earlier this year, Howe had hoped that the ACL would re-attach itself while he wore a brace over the past six weeks.
However arthroscopic surgery last night revealed that the ligament had not repaired well enough and a season-ending reconstruction was required.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY CANBERRA, THIS SATURDAY AT OLYMPIC PARK, 7.30PM
1. Junior Langi BENCH 2. Semi Tadulala 14. Danny Williams 3. Steven Bell 15. Dallas Johnson 4. Billy Slater 16. Kirk Reynoldson 5. Marcus Bai 17. Glen Turner 6. Matt Geyer 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Mitchell Sargent 11. Peter Robinson 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. David Kidwell
IN: Semi Tadulala OUT: Ross (back injury)
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK: Wednesday: 3pm, Olympic Park Friday: 5pm, Olympic Park