Queensland's State of Origin troops have taken another hit with Melbourne prop Christian Welch appearing to suffer a season-ending serious knee injury during their NRL match against Wests Tigers.
A downcast Welch limped off AAMI Park at halftime, appearing to recognise the severity of the injury after blowing out the same knee almost two years ago to the day.
That injury meant he missed the Storm's 2017 premiership win.
The 24-year-old was untouched as he ran forward but faltered as his knee buckled and he headed straight toward the sidelines.
He was comforted by fellow props Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona as he walked to the change-rooms in a touching gesture.
"It looks like it's an ACL so that's really disappointing for us and for Christian," coach Craig Bellamy said.
"He's been playing well and he was in line to play Origin so it's really disappointing.
"As you can imagine he's quite upset and his teammates are really feeling for him."
Welch was 18th man for the Maroons in game three last year and in line to break into the playing squad with some consistent performances in the Storm's stellar start to the season.
"We are pretty sure it will be the season and he's going to be really hard to replace," Bellamy said.
"He's been a really important part of our team for two or three years.
"Each year he gets a little bit better and he's a really hard worker so we're really going to miss him."
Welch is off-contract with his playing future now under a cloud.
Australian Associated Press