MICHAEL LAWRENCE has been ruled out for up to three months.
Scans have revealed the 22-year-old back-row forward suffered pulled left ankle ligaments during the Giants’ 36-12 home pre-season triumph over Widnes Vikings on Sunday.
The news is a massive blow to Lawrence and the Giants, with the former Newsome Panthers junior a strong bet for a back-row start in his side’s Super League XVIII opener at St Helens on Saturday, February 2.
The Huddersfield-born England Knights star has been told he’ll be sidelined for at least eight weeks.
But with fears it could be up to 12 weeks before he’s back to full fitness, Giants chief Paul Anderson admits the news couldn’t have been much worse.
“We’re gutted for Bruno,” said Anderson.
“He’s had a great pre-season and everyone was looking forward to seeing him build on that in 2013.
“It’s such a massive shame we won’t be able to see what he can do at the start of the season, because he has become so important to our team.
“When I was a player I was often asked who would be the first name I’d put on the teamsheet. That would always be (now Leeds Rhinos coach) Brian McDermott because he did the little things consistently well.
“That’s what Bruno has become for us. He’s developed into the sort of player people like to play alongside, and I know we’ll miss him or the first few months of the season.
“But I’m sure when he does return, he’ll be 100% determined to get back to his best form as soon as possible.”
Although Lawrence is now a key member of the Giants’ pack following his successful switch from centre, Anderson isn’t short of back-row options.
Besides Brett Ferres, Dale Ferguson, David Faiumu, Jamie Cording and Jacob Fairbank, who featured in the roles in the win over Widnes, the Giants have three big hitters in the wings.
Jason Chan wasn’t risked against the Vikings to help aid his recovery from a knee gash picked up at St Helens the week before, while Luke O’Donnell is working on his fitness following his return from his native Australia a week ago.
And Huddersfield are still waiting for former New Zealand second-row enforcer Ukuma Ta’ai to be handed his work permit.