Veteran Castleford Tigers prop Andy Lynch suffered a broken leg in Sunday’s 30-20 home defeat by St Helens, the club have confirmed.
Already without eight senior players, the Tigers lost their long-serving front rower – at 36 the oldest player in Super League – six minutes from the end.
Coach Daryl Powell said: “It will be assessed over the next few days to see the severity of the injury and the timescales out of the game, but it will be a significant time.”
Despite a third successive defeat, Powell was encouraged by the performance of his side, which was transformed from the one that suffered a humiliating 58-16 loss to lowly Hull KR as they overcame the injury woes to lead 20-12 after an hour before falling agonisingly short at the end.
Powell gave a debut to 17-year-old prop Conor Fitzsimmons and was forced to reshuffle his line-up just before kick-off after centre Jake Webster aggravated a hip injury in the warm-up and second rower Junior Moors failed a head test, with prop forward Grant Millington starting the match at stand-off.
“That’s just the way it’s going for us,” Powell said. “I picked three teams today.
“But it was a massive step up. I thought our attitude was great.
“It’s tough but if we continue to work that hard, things are going to flip. There is no way with the squad of players we’ve got that we will continue to lose games.
“If we continue to show the character that we showed today, we are going to start winning.
“We made just too many errors and that really hurt us in that key period in the second half but we weren’t too far away today.
“We had young kids on the bench but that’s no excuse, the boys did us proud, we just weren’t quite good enough to win.”
St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham was delighted his side managed to back up their close-fought win over Leeds to stay in touch with leaders Warrington.
“The best thing to come out of the game was the way we got out to a lead towards the end and defended it,” Cunningham said.