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34 hours ago
Skipper Steve Price is heading into the unknown as he begins to sit out eight weeks of the New Zealand Warriors' NRL campaign.
Price, 34, limped off the field just 17 minutes into the Warriors' season-opening defeat in Melbourne on Monday night with a torn hamstring.
The prop on Thursday said he had never had an injury like that in his 289-match first-grade career.
A hamstring strain, yes, but not a tear, and he was as yet unsure what his rehabilitation program would be.
He said he knew from the pain that he had done something more than just twinge the hamstring.
"I certainly knew it was something unusual," he said.
"I'd never felt anything like that before."
The injury occurred in what appeared to be innocuous circumstances.
"I was running with the ball and was just using some footwork," Price said.
"I went to step off my left foot and it seemed as though, when I put my foot down, it was not quite there."
He said one blessing was that he had not done serious damage to his knee, which was clicked back into place when he went to see a chiropractor.
Price's mishap means the Warriors have lost their two best ball carriers and players in the past month.
Fullback Wade McKinnon is out for the year after sustaining a knee injury in a pre-season trial.
Last season, the Warriors had a good run with a lack of injuries as they made the NRL playoffs for the first time since 2003.
"That's the way it goes, isn't it," Price said.
"We play a contact sport and you have your good runs and your bad runs and unfortunately we've not had a great start in that respect.
"Hopefully we're the last two (injuries), and we can get consistency in the boys being on the field and not have any injury worries."
Coach Ivan Cleary has brought in youngster Sonny Fai to take Price's place in the 17 for the home match against Parramatta on Sunday.
Fai, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Thursday, will make his NRL debut off bench, with Ruben Wiki moving from the reserves to the starting side to assume Price's No.10 jersey and the captaincy.
Cleary, like Price, was philosophical about the injury situation, adding that the club had been developing depth in experience in the squad.
"It's unfortunate, it must just be our time to be tested," Cleary said.
"We've worked to try to build some leadership through the younger members of the team. They'll be put to the test early."
Cleary said it was an opportunity for the likes of Evarn Tuimamave, Epalahame Lauaki and Sam Rapira to assume greater prominence.
"It's probably time they took bigger steps and I think they're ready for it."