HUDDERSFIELD Giants have been rocked by the news that top prop Jim Gannon could miss the first two months of the season.
The 26-year-old Australian had ligaments ripped from a thumb bone during the defeat at Leeds Rhinos last weekend.
Gannon has already undergone surgery to repair the damage and medical staff believe it could keep him out for up to eight weeks.
"It's a devastating blow," admitted Giants coach Jon Sharp.
"Jim has been tremendous in the two trial games he's played.
"We've changed one or two things in his game and as a result his go-forward has been great.
"The only real consolation is that because of the timing of the Challenge Cup he could only end up missing about three Super League matches.
"And it also gives us a little more time to work on specific areas of his game, which means by the time he returns he'll be fresh and it'll be like welcoming a new player.
"I would obviously not like to be talking like this, but one bloke's loss is another bloke's gain and I feel confident I have the necessary cover to deal with Jim's absence."
But while the news on Gannon is bad, the news on fellow injured star Brandon Costin is brighter.
The Giants' playmaker suffered an ankle injury in training on the eve of the Leeds game, which forced him to miss the contest.
He is now responding to treatment and could feature in the Super League IX opener at home to Castleford on Sunday week.
"Brandon is making progress and we're quietly confident he'll be OK to play," added Sharp.
"But we'll know a lot more in the next few days."
Opening day opponents Castleford, meanwhile, completed their pre-season programme last night with a narrow 24-22 defeat at home to Hull FC.
Tigers boss Graham Steadman reported no new injuries, meaning the only expected absentees for the McAlpine clash will be prop Andy Lynch and centres Paul Newlove and Paul Mellor.
"Now Hull is out of the way we can start to focus fully on Huddersfield," said Steadman.