Melbourne Storm great Ryan Hoffman is facing the end of his NRL career after injuring his hamstring in the 17-14 loss to Cronulla Sharks on Sunday.
The 34 year old forward is due to retire at the end of the season and came off the bench late in the game to give the Storm some energy, but suffered a what appears to be a serious hamstring injury after having his leg lifted in an awkward tackle.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said the clubs medical staff fear Hoffman has a “major hamstring” injury.
Bellamy has shared a tight bond with Hoffman as he played with his dad Jay during his rugby league career.
“We are all concerned – he is in tears in the dressing room which is not an easy thing to see, especially for a guy who is in the twilight of his career,” Bellamy said.
“He has been a wonderful player for this club and Im not too sure he will play again to be quite honest.
“The hamstring, they are thinking it is a really major injury, and I know he will do everything he can to get back this year and not have to retire on this note.
“They want to let it settle down tomorrow and then on Tuesday or Wednesday scan it and see exactly what the problem is but he is on crutches.
“Its not looking great for him.”
Hoffman played for New South Wales and Australia and has played over 350 NRL games, the majority of them with the Storm.
“Im hoping he can get back before the end of the season, depending on the severity,” Bellamy said.
Hoffman came back to the Storm this season to have a final year with his home club and begin work towards a career in sports administration or business and he has still been a regular performer sharing the starting second row spot with Joe Stimson.
Storm captain Cameron Smith said he was hurting for his good mate and very concerned his career may be over.
“Its extremely tough for everyone, particularly guys like myself, Billy Slater and Will Chambers who have played all of our careers alongside him,” Smith said.
“Its not the way his career should have finished or more than likely has finished. On top of not playing well today, to have an injury to Ryan as severe as that is not great.
“Its not a very happy dressing room at the moment but we will all get around Hoffy in the next few days and hope for the best, that its not as bad as we first think.”
If there is one glimmer of hope for the Storm, last week they feared Smith had suffered an achilles injury and it turned out to only be a minor big toe irritation.
“I think the coach played it up more than what was happening,” Smith said.
“There is no issues at all, I got some treatment last weekend and it pulled up really good – no issues at all.”
The Storm play Parramatta Eels at AAMI Park on Friday at 7.50pm.