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Vagana surgery won't cost Sharks By Margie McDonald January 21, 2004
CRONULLA's star signing for the new season, Nigel Vagana, will not take part in next month's trial games after undergoing shoulder surgery yesterday.
But the good news for the Kiwi international and former Bulldog is that the arthroscopy is considered minor and should have him back on the park at Telstra Stadium on March 13 for the opening round of the NRL premiership.
"It's an injury he's been trying to get right for some time and he's been playing with it," said Sharks football operations manager Greg Pierce, adding the club knew about the injury before signing Vagana for three years.
"What we didn't want to do was start him in trial games and then get into the season and then he needs to have his shoulder done. He'd be out for six games.
"This way, he's still out for six weeks but he doesn't miss any games."
Vagana is the biggest signing for the struggling club, which finished 12th last year after only eight wins in 24 matches. The Sharks missed the finals for only the second time since 1995; the other was when they came ninth in 1998.
Aside from Vagana and former NSW rugby union utility back Ryan McGoldrick, Cronulla also have signed Sydney Roosters prop Andrew Lomu, South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt and former Australian Schoolboys captain Michael Russo from Melbourne.
Centre Paul Franze's return after missing most of last season with a knee injury gives the Sharks even more depth out wide.
NRL judiciary chairman Greg Woods has ruled that Parramatta forward Nathan Hindmarsh cannot use the World Sevens tournament this weekend to work off his one-match suspension.
Hindmarsh received the ban after the last round of 2003 against the Panthers at Penrith Stadium for a dangerous throw.
Sevens matches and trials organised by clubs do not count against suspensions, but Parramatta had argued the entire tournament should be viewed as one match.
Woods said trial or exhibition games could count towards an NRL suspension only when they are sanctioned in advance by the NRL.