HUDDERSFIELD Giants’ prop crisis is now even worse.
Head coach Nathan Brown has confirmed first-choice front-row forward Keith Mason is out for the start of Super League XVII.
The 29-year-old has been forced into rehabilitation after struggling to recover from a groin injury suffered in the opening minutes of last week’s 30-18 pre-season triumph at Wigan Warriors.
It means he will miss the season opener, also at Wigan, on Sunday, February 5, along with fellow injured front-rowers David Fa’alogo (back), Larne Patrick (wrist), Luke O‘Donnell (knee) and Tony Tonks (suspended).
They will also be without another pack man, David Faiumu, who has failed by one week in his bid to be fit for the start of the season following shoulder surgery.
And with the Giants continuing to struggle to agree a deal with Leeds Rhinos to bring prop Luke Ambler on loan, it means Huddersfield head to the DW Stadium with just two recognised props in the shape of Eorl Crabtree and rookie Adam Walker.
But Brown knows this is an excellent opportunity for some younger members of the squad to step up to the mark.
“Losing Keith is another big disappointment, particularly as it means we’re one more prop down,” said Brown.
“That obviously adds to the pressure on those who will be available.
“But I remain confident we’ll be able to field a formidable side when we go to Wigan next weekend.
“We’ve got back-rowers who can push up to prop and Michael Lawrence (back following wrist surgery) ready to come into the second row.
“And Michael’s switch frees up Joe Wardle to slot straight back in at centre after he had to miss the Wigan trip with a hip injury.
“Bobby Fairbank’s also been going well, and this could be the moment he’s been waiting for too.
“So these injuries to the senior blokes do give some of the younger boys a chance to see what they’re made of.”