The Canberra Raiders’ recent troubles with international football reared their ugly head again, when Ata Hingano injured his shoulder representing Tonga in Saturday’s test against the Kangaroos.
Last week we wrote that the test represented a unique opportunity for Ata Hingano and the Raiders. (You can read it here if you want).
Ricky Stuart’s decision to play him out of position at backup hooker, combined with a serious injury meant that Canberra never got a real look at whether he could be a long-term halves partner for Aidan Sezer. The missed opportunity meant that Hingano’s ability to challenge Sam Williams for a first-string position was going to be heavily influenced by Saturday’s test.
Unfortunately, what transpired was the worst of all possible outcomes. Hingano was injured in the 4th minute when his shoulder borked (I believe that’s the technical term) in a tackle on Jordan McLean. You can see the medical diagnosis from @NRLphysio above. If it requires surgery, it’s a three-to-six month wait. Given the season starts in four and a half months you can see the dilemma.
Even without surgery, time out of the Raiders pre-season is hardly what Canberra or Hingano need at this point. He’s not the front-runner for the position, but at 21 he represents possibility and potential, as opposes to the certain ceiling of Williams. Without meaningful games to test him in, pre-season training would take on more signficance after this test. More time on the bench only serves to highlight the mystery of Hingano.
This injury was made all the more frustrating due to Hingano’s ‘each-way’ performance. He missed a tackle (probably because of his injury) on James Tedesco that led to a Kangaroos try.
He also threw a gorgeous ball to Tevita Pangai Jr that led to points for the Tongans.
All this in around twenty injury-riddled minutes. The ball-play was everything the Raiders need more of in their halves. The missed tackle was everything they’re trying to change.
The tape on Hingano in meaningful football is frustratingly small. The Raiders have no idea if the young gun can cut at first grade, and there none the wiser today. However long Hingano is out, the Raiders will be guessing to an extent if they give him major minutes at the start of next year.
Given the importance of 2019 to this playing group (and Coach Stuart’s future at the club), it’s not an ideal situation.
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