Jinxed Leeds Carnegie forward Danny Paul will miss most of the remaining seven games of the regular Championship season after copping yet more injury woe.
The back rower, Carnegie’s longest-serving player, is expected to be out for the next four to six weeks after injuring his calf early on in the Boxing Day derby against Championship rivals Doncaster Knights at Castle Park.
It’s the latest in a long line of injury blows to befall the 25-year-old, who has seen more of the treatment room than the playing field over the past few seasons.
Kippax-born Paul was sidelined during much of the Great Escape season in 2009-10 following major shoulder surgery and he also went under the knife back in May to remedy a hip problem.
Paul – also afflicted by an Achilles problem this term – didn’t make his first-team return until the home derby against Rotherham Titans on November 25 and now faces another spell on the sidelines.
Head coach Diccon Edwards, who also revealed that experienced centre Scott Barrow is a doubt for Sunday’s home clash with London Scottish with a sore Achilles, said: “Danny’s got a calf tear and it looks like he will be out for probably four to six weeks by the looks of it.
“It’s a blow for him, but he’s really strong mentally and can deal with setbacks.
“Hopefully at some stage, we hope that will be the end of it and we’ll see the best of him consistently.”
With being happy with his side’s defensive commitment in the 9-9 draw at Knights, Edwards has challenged his troops to improve their offensive execution levels against Scottish on New Year’s Day.
Individual highlights did arrive, with recent signing Will Cliff, who came off the bench at Doncaster, singled out for praise by Edwards after a determined defensive shift, which culminated in a vital last-ditch tackle to deny the hosts a try.
Both scrum-half Cliff and centre Jordan Davies – also a replacement in South Yorkshire – are bedding in nicely following their arrival on loan from Sale Sharks as part of the two clubs’ player-share arrangement earlier this month.
And Edwards feels there’s lots more to come from the young pair.
Edwards said: “Will Cliff, defensively, put in a great effort at Doncaster and made some outstanding tackles. When you come into a new environment, for the first few weeks, you just get used to what is going on and both him and Jordan are still understanding what we are trying to do and getting comfortable. But they are only going to get better with more experience and getting attuned to what we do as they are really talented young players who have plenty to offer us in the second half of the season.
“Will has added to us defensively and that was outstanding at Doncaster as was the attitude of all our players in that respect.”
On Monday’s clash at Doncaster, where no quarter was given, Edwards added: “It was a very fiercely contested game, but disappointing in terms of execution. I don’t think either side really got going and we sort of nullified each other’s threats.
“The contact area was heavily contested and there was no real tempo to the game and it was quite a stop-start affair with execution errors from both teams.
“It wasn’t a high standard game and a typical derby, really.
“Hopefully, our execution levels will improve against Scottish and it will be a bit more of a spectacle.”