North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote has been ruled out of NRL action for at least six months after suffering a knee injury on Saturday at the Auckland Nines.
The Cowboys confirmed on Sunday that scans had revealed Coote ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee early on the tournament’s first day.
Coote’s best hope for a return would be for the latter rounds of the NRL season and the finals.
New Cowboys coach Paul Green said it was a tough setback for the club’s key off-season recruit.
“Obviously, this is very disappointing news for Lachlan and the Cowboys, especially when we were all looking forward to his first season with us,” Green said in a statement.
“He’s a talented young footballer who still has many seasons ahead of him.
“We believe we have a talented group of players ready to fill the fullback role this year and this opens up an opportunity for one of them for round one against Canberra.”
The injury is another cruel blow for Coote, 23, who moved to Townsville looking for a fresh start, and was recruited as a replacement for club legend Matt Bowen in the Cowboys’ No.1 jersey.
It is the fourth long-term injury for Coote.
He suffered a shoulder injury in 2009, osteitis pubis in 2010 and a pectoral muscle injury ruled him out of most of last season with Penrith.
After making a long run in the first half of the opening day’s sixth game against Manly, Coote was brought down by Steve Menzies after making a long run and stood up clutching his knee before limping off.