Lowe's blow as Hasler keeps chin up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lowe's blow as Hasler keeps chin up

By Steve Jancetic 17/03/2010 07:43:50 PM Comments (0)

As Des Hasler searched for positives, Manly chief executive Graham Lowe admitted he was lost for words after learning knee surgery would sideline star fullback Brett Stewart for up to five months.

Stewart's annus horribilis stretched past the 12-month mark this week, with the former Test representative to undergo his second bout of knee surgery in as many years.

Just when he goes under the knife is still up in the air however, with Stewart due in court on Monday for the continuation of his hearing into sexual assault charges.

The injury was first diagnosed as requiring a 3-6 week layoff, but a visit to the surgeon who operated on his other knee last year delivered Stewart and the Sea Eagles the news they had been fearing.

While the 25-year-old maintained the silence he has kept since that fateful Manly season launch last year - the night his alleged attack on a 17-year-old female occurred - Lowe and Sea Eagles coach Hasler offered contrasting opinions.

Knowing the impact losing one of the best fullbacks in the game could have on his side, Hasler did his best to keep morale at a high ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with the Eels at Parramatta Stadium.

Lowe on the other hand summed up the devastation for a player who has lurched from one setback to another over the past year.

"Words can't cover what you'd like to say to him," Lowe said.

"It's terrible news but it's the sort of thing you've got to be prepared for when you're involved in rugby league because it's such a tough contact sport."

Surgeons will repair Stewart's medial meniscus while also removing loose 'bodies' in his knee.

It is estimated he won't run for 12 weeks, with another six weeks of rehabilitation.

Hasler removed any concerns over Stewart's career, and Manly's premiership hopes, being in danger of going under.

"You will see Brett Stewart running again this year," Hasler said.

"It's a little bit worse than what we first expected.

"While it is devastating news for Brett and his teammates, the positive is he will be back around round 19, 20.

"He will be back to get his match fitness right for our march into the semi-finals."

Pundits however have been quick to question Manly's ability to make it to the top eight without their greatest attacking asset.

Bookmakers wasted little time in writing off the Sea Eagles, with one organisation blowing them out from $13 to $21 on the back of the news.

"We won nine from nine (without Stewart last year) - the boys got the job done," Hasler said.

"There is no doubt with the belief and the ability of the players at this club, they'll get the job done again.

"It's going to have some impact on us but we've been there before and got over it and got the job done and we'll do it again."

Winger Michael Robertson - who filled in for Stewart at the back last year - was named to wear the No.1 jumper against the Eels, though Parramatta veteran Luke Burt summed up the magnitude of Stewart's absence when he compared the try-scoring freak to Eels champion Jarryd Hayne.

"Definitely, they're similar players. Losing a player of his calibre is a big loss for Manly," Burt said.

"But they've done it before and probably Robertson will go to fullback and he's done the job plenty of times for them so they lose a little bit but not too much."

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