WESTERN Suburbs winger Justin Smith’s dreams of playing in the Newcastle Rugby League grand final on Sunday were crushed yesterday after X-rays revealed a badly broken big toe.
Smith, who is arguably the quickest player in the competition, has been carrying the injury since the Country NSW tour of Samoa.
He played with a pain-killing injection in Sunday’s 36-6 preliminary final victory over Maitland, but failed to finish the game after aggravating the toe injury.
“We’ve bit the bullet and got scans and he’s now on crutches and he will need further whatever, whether it’s surgery, but his season’s finished,” Rosellas coach Craig Miller said.
Wests signed the 21-year-old Aberdeen junior from the Wests Tigers under-20 side at the start of the season.
In his first season of senior football Smith scored 12 tries for the Rosellas and was rewarded with selection in the Newcastle Rebels and Country teams.
“Unfortunately since Country he had to carry an injury and we’ve managed it the best we could. It’s shattering for him to miss the biggest day of his career so far,” Miller said.
“There’s a lot of disappointment for a player to get this far and have such a good year and get so close, but we’ll deal with that.”
Rosellas captain Jermaine Ale will shift from the second row to the wing for the grand final against Cessnock.
Mark Farrar will move into the pack and James Woolford comes onto the bench.
The Rosellas should know today if halfback Zac Walsh will be cleared to play in the decider.
Walsh was heavily concussed after a high tackle from Maitland halfback Jade Porter, but he has been cleared of any long-lasting effects.
The 18-year-old will have CAT scans today.
“He’ll be getting scans tomorrow so we can make a decision whether he can play,” Miller said. “Given it’s a head injury it will decide whether the decision is taken out of my hands or not,” Miller said yesterday.