Corey Norman's hopes of earning a State of Origin debut are in doubt after the Eels halfback was forced from the field during Sunday's 48-10 loss to the Roosters with what his coach diagnosed as a grade two medial ligament injury.
The Eels' chief playmaker had been in scintillating form in 2017, leading to calls for Norman to be thrust into the Queensland side if Johnathan Thurston failed to recover from his shoulder injury.
Norman was helped from the field 10 minutes into the second half after his right leg was caught awkwardly in a tackle by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Eels trainers tended to him for a minute before deciding to take him up the tunnel.
His injury summed up a disastrous afternoon for the Eels who were outclassed in all facets by the Roosters.
"I think – obviously they'll need to send him in for scans – but I think I've been told a grade two medial," Eels coach Brad Arthur said after the game.
"We'll have to get scans, but I don't know, four weeks.
"There was a bigger blow today, and it wasn't Corey Norman.
"We just got outmuscled. I thought the physicality, we weren't in it today, and it's something that we want to pride ourselves on and we were just outplayed in every aspect of the game."
The full extent of the injury won't be known until the 26-year-old has scans, but it's highly unlikely that he will be fit enough to be considered for the series opener on May 31 in Brisbane.
Arthur said he felt for Norman, but added the injury would hurt the Eels more than the Maroons.
"Me and Corey hadn't even really spoken about it," he said when asked about Origin.
"His priority is playing well for Parramatta and if he's playing well enough then (rep) teams will get selected on the back of that.
"I'm disappointed for him, but I'm also disappointed for our club because at the end of the day he's here to play for Parramatta. He's going to have lots of opportunities to play rep footy, but his priority is Parramatta."
Arthur also refused to buy into speculation the Eels would ask the Wests Tigers to reconsider their stance on releasing Mitchell Moses given the talented five-eighth has shown a desire to join Parramatta this season.
"That's out of my control, that's up to the Tigers. We've got plenty of things that we need to get right before we worry about that."
This article first appeared on NRL.com