North Queensland Toyota Cowboys head coach Paul Green has conceded the loss of bench forward John Asiata is a huge blow to his side.
Asiata is set for an extended stint on the sidelines after tearing a pectoral muscle in the second half of the Cowboys' Round 7 victory over the Titans.
The 25-year-old had been a dangerous asset off the bench for Green in 2018, averaging just shy of 70 running metres and 19 tackles a game.
Asiata's ball-playing also provided a huge point of difference for the Cowboys, highlighted by his brilliant short ball to send Ben Hampton over for the first try of the game against the Titans.
"He's had surgery for a pec tear so we'll see how he pulls up after the operation, but obviously it's going to be long term," Green said this week.
"You're always shattered whenever one of your boys gets an injury. I thought his start to the year has been exceptional, he's been one of our most consistent players so I'm really disappointed from that point of view."
Cowboys forward Shaun Fensom, who has just returned from a long-term injury of his own, said he felt for his teammate.
"You never want to see your teammates get injured. Johnny is a really nice fella and I feel for him, he loves playing footy and helping out the side. It's not good at all," Fensom said.
Taking to Instagram after his surgery on Tuesday, Asiata pledged to make a swift return to the field.
"Big thanks to everyone for all the prayers and support it's much appreciated. Looking forward to getting into rehab and getting back out on the field with the boys as soon as possible," he posted.