By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Drafted in late to the Dragons' NRL Auckland Nines squad after Mose Masoe devastatingly tore his ACL at training on Wednesday, Tyrone McCarthy can't help but feel gutted for his fellow Red V recruit.
With Masoe forced to undergo knee reconstruction surgery next week and set to be sidelined for six months, McCarthy said the 26-year-old's presence would be missed in the Dragons side.
"He's a big character amongst the team, not only in stature but also how fun and vibrant he is. Everyone is really sad for him," the Englishman told NRL.com.
"We were all so excited to see what he was going to do this year. To lose him is a pretty big blow for us.
"When you see how hard he was training, it's probably the best condition he's been in for a long time, and that's a credit to him. It's just unfortunate that he had to suffer what he did."
Originally pencilled in for a Nines berth before tearing his hamstring prior to Christmas, McCarthy was all but headed to Queensland for the Dragons' trial against Wynnum-Manly this weekend to push his claims for an NRL berth.
But now with Masoe's season-ending injury, McCarthy has instead entered an exuberant Auckland atmosphere to a world of rugby league he is yet to experience.
"I obviously just want to perform well and put my best foot forward with Round 1 approaching, and so I want to put my name in contention for the starting 17," McCarthy said at the tournament's fan day on Friday.
"I've been a bit touch and go for a while but I've overcome [the hamstring injury] and I'm pretty excited to be involved. I'm trying to take in the atmosphere of it all now.
"It's different though, back at home we have the [Super League] Magic Weekend where all the teams play at the one stadium throughout a weekend, but it's not a tournament either so it's exciting and I'm certainly looking forward to it."
The time spent away from Wollongong will only help McCarthy's cause amongst the squad too, with the former Warrington and Hull KR back-rower just one of 11 new faces trying to find their place in coach Paul McGregor's squad.
"Just being around the boys the whole week and getting to know each other a little bit better is really important. It's good for team camaraderie and hopefully we'll see it out on the field this weekend," McCarthy said.
"Being out there is going to be a different feel to what it is at training because everyone will start to realise everyone else's capabilities as well."