Rugby league: NZ Warriors injury woes continue as young half Luke Metcalf suffers serious hamstring issue on eve of new NRL season

NZ Warriors have been struck by an injury blow before the NRL season has even begun, with impressive youngster Luke Metcalf suffering a hamstring injury.

Metcalf arrived in New Zealand in the off-season after signing from Cronulla Sharks and impressed in his first outing for the Warriors last week - a 48-12 victory over Wests Tigers.

The young half scored one try, made a line break, broke four tackles and made 17 runs for 150 metres, to go with 17 tackles made on the night.

But the 23-year-old has suffered what's been labelled as a "serious" injury by the club, and has been withdrawn from the matchday squad to face Melbourne Storm in Christchurch on Sunday in the final pre-season fixture before the NRL season begins.

NZ Warriors head of performance Balin Cupples said Metcalf faces "a lengthy period of time on the sideline".

No timeframe has been given for Metcalf's return. 

The Warriors will also be without five-eighth Te Maire Martin for Saturday's clash against the Storm, absent after the birth of his first child.

As a result, Ronald Volkman starts in the No.6 jersey, and partners Shaun Johnson in the halves.

The trio of Martin, Johnson and Volkman will battle for the two starting spots in the halves for the Warriors' season opener against Newcastle Knights on March 3.

Elsewhere, young front rower Valingi Kepu has been ruled out for the entire season, after a horror injury in training that left him needing surgery on his left foot.

But, in better news for the club, the pair of Jazz Tevaga and Rocco Berry are hoped to be available for the early rounds of the NRL season.

Jazz Tevaga
Jazz Tevaga Photo credit: Photosport

Utility forward Tevaga has been hit by injuries on two fronts. The 27-year-old missed the end of the 2022 NRL season after needing a shoulder reconstruction.

But while Tevaga has recovered well from surgery, a hernia at the end of 2022 scratched him from the Warriors' two pre-season matches, as well as the start of the NRL.

Berry, 21, broke a bone in his left foot during the Warriors' pre-season training but is hoped to recover in time to return for the opening rounds of the new season.