Luckless star breaks down after suspected season-ending injury

Cronulla Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo has suffered a suspected season-ending injury during Saturday afternoon’s victory over the Wests Tigers, but showed his class with an “incredible” gesture after the match.

Mulitalo left the field after copping an innocuous blow to the jaw in the 66th minute of the Round 23 clash at Rockhampton’s Browne Park.

The 21-year-old was spotted holding ice to his jaw on the sidelines having suffered a suspected broken jaw.

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“Speaking to Cronulla staff, it’s a suspected broken jaw,” Fox League reporter Corey Parker said.

“He will obviously go for scans to confirm that.”

Ronaldo Mulitalo’s season is seemingly over.Source:Getty Images

Mulitalo had already scored a double in the one-sided contest, diving over in the 23rd and 35th minute to help give the Sharks a healthy lead at halftime.

But the winger selflessly gave up a certain hat-trick in the second half, handing Cronulla teammate Luke Metcalf his first try in first grade.

After the full-time siren, Mulitalo showed his class once again by applauding the local crowd with tears swelling in his eyes.

The Samoan international also gifted a pair of boots to a young fan in stands.

“This is incredible,” Fox League presenter Yvonne Sampson said. “He’s got tears in his eyes.

“I think he knows this is his season done. It doesn’t matter how far the Sharks go into their finals campaign.

“The paramedics were there trying to treat him, and he probably waved them away and said, ‘No, I want to say goodbye’. Amazing stuff.”

Cronulla great Michael Ennis continued: “He gave his boots to a young lad. That’s such a nice moment.”

All class from Ronaldo Mulitalo 👏👏👏

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Ronaldo Mulitalo remains undefeated as one of the best blokes in the NRL.

With ice on his cheek and tears down his face, he still goes over to applaud the crowd and finds a young kid to give his boots to 👏#NRL#NRLTigersSharks

After the game, Sharks coach Josh Hannay said Mulitalo was sent straight to hospital.

“We’re not sure yet of the severity of Ronnie’s injury. It is his jaw,” Hannay said.

“He’s gone to hospital now to get some scans so we’ll get to the bottom of it before we get out of here. It’s not looking great, but I can’t sit here now and tell you exactly what’s gone on.”

It’s been a brutal year for Mulitalo, who had his State of Origin debut taken away from him because of an eligibility bungle.

He is a key figure in this Cronulla team not just because of his talent but because of his infectious personality, and his absence would leave a huge hole in their attack as they push towards the finals.

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“He’s a big piece for our team. He’s a spark for us and he gives everyone a lot of energy,” his coach said.

“Invariably, when Ronnie has a good game, we win. He’s that kind of player. He was having a really good day out there. Fingers crossed it’s a good result.”

Ronaldo Mulitalo farewells the crowd.Source:Getty Images

Michael Maguire would have loved the privacy of the coaching box on Saturday, but instead he had to spend another frustrating afternoon in the stands amongst the punters as the Tigers’ finals hopes were all but ended by the Sharks.

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as the Sunday afternoon showdown at Leichhardt Oval in 2019 that featured a Paul Gallen field goal, but it had the same outcome for the Tigers who need the miracle of all miracles to sneak into the top eight for the first time since 2011.

They came into the game on the back of two-straight wins but they were no match for a professional Sharks side that is now back in the finals hunt after a comfortable 50-20 win in Rockhampton.

The fallout from the loss will make for good viewing in the Tales from Tiger Town documentary, because no coach could cop so many basic errors in such an important game.

Moses Mbye passed when the line was wide open and they had a simple try disallowed because of a scrum infringement, while their defence was unacceptable with so much at stake.

Like they’ve done so often in 2021, they showed some fight when the game was already gone to make the scoreboard more respectable, but even that didn’t last as the Sharks smelled blood in the water and showed why they are the apex predator.

No team has conceded 50 points and gone on to win the competition. Somewhat mercifully, that won’t apply for the Tigers who will have to watch the playoffs on TV.

– with Martin Gabor, NCA NewsWire

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