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Injury creeps in

Sunday, October 29, 2017

England may have to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup final for Sam Burgess to play again in the tournament, while Australian lock Jake Trbojevic is expected to be ruled out after suffering a suspected torn pectoral muscle.

That was the wash-up from the opening game of RLWC2017 in which the Kangaroos ground out an 18-4 win over England at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

"Sam's done a medial by the look of it so that is three to four weeks," England coach Wayne Bennett said.

The initial diagnosis suggests Burgess will miss England's remaining pool matches against Lebanon and France, as well as the quarter-final, which is expected to be in Melbourne against the winner of Pool C featuring Papua New Guinea, Wales and Ireland.

He may then return in Auckland for the semi-final on November 25 or need to rely on England winning against an opponent who is likely to the winner of Pool B featuring New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland and Tonga to play in the final.

At least Burgess has a chance of playing again, whereas Trbojevic's World Cup is over if scans confirm he has a torn pectoral muscle.

"He has gone to hospital with a pec injury and we all know how serious they can be," Australia coach Mal Meninga said.

Kangaroos vice-captain Boyd Cordner was disappointed for Trbojevic as he knows first hand the severity of the injury after missing three months last year with a ruptured pectoral muscle .

"I saw Jake in the shed with ice on his pec and I am not sure all the boys knew about the seriousness of the injury," Cordner said.

"All my thoughts are with Jake. I know how bad it is so hopefully it is just a strain."

Despite the injuries, both coaches were upbeat about their team's prospects in the World Cup after a gripping opening match played before a crowd of 22,724 in Melbourne.

For Australia, it was a case of mission accomplished as Meninga's men virtually guaranteed they would not have to cross the Tasman to play a semi-final.

With the game in the balance until Cameron Smith kicked a penalty goal in the 76th minute and Josh Dugan scored a long range try one minute before fulltime, Bennett believes his team will only improve -even without Burgess.

"We've a quality footy team here," he said.

"Sam's always going to be a loss to any team. But we managed for 60 minutes without him tonight and we didn't seem to lose a lot of momentum.

"Tonight wasn't the destination it was just part of the journey. We just have to remind ourselves on that."

After conceding an early try to England winger Jermaine McGillvary, Australia dominated possession and field possession to wear their opponents down and take the lead through tries in the 23rd and 29th minutes by Matt Gillett and Billy Slater.

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