An ACL rupture to star half Luke Keary, doubled down by injuries to Lachlan Lam and Lindsay Collins, has rocked a punch-drunk Roosters already reeling from their latest bashing by arch-rivals South Sydney.
Keary's season-ending blow – confirmed by follow-up scans on Saturday – puts the Tricolours' campaign in all sorts, and an ill-disciplined Roosters performance on the back-burner for coach Trent Robinson.
The pint-sized play-maker being carried from the field capped a wretched night for the Roosters, coming after a feared medial ligament strain for Lam and Collins being hospitalised, for observation, after a sickening head knock.
Robinson confirmed the initial diagnosis in the wake of a deflating 26-16 loss for the Roosters, with attention now turning to his scrum base and the likely debut of teen prodigy Sam Walker.
Match: Rabbitohs v Roosters
Round 3 -
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
While Drew Hutchison offers a more experienced play-making hand, the fact Adam Keighran is also out with a dislocated elbow means Walker is one of the few options left at Moore Park if Lam is unavailable.
Asked how he would go about replacing Keary, an instrumental part in the club's two most recent premierships, Robinson said: "That's the wonderful part of our sport isn't it?
"It's really tough, but what do you do? Let's go, let's find a way. You find a way.
Keary leaves field after clutching at knee
"You get disappointed for five minutes and then you get excited for what's next. It's the acceleration of some other guys in our team to go and take opportunities.
"It's up to us to find a way. It's round three."
Until the Roosters went down all over the shop, the story wasn't so much the Rabbitohs' 10-point triumph, forged through their lethal left edge once more.
It was Jai Arrow wearing a punch in the back of the head, mock-waving Roosters rookie Daniel Suluka-Fifita off to the sin-bin and joining the cardinal and myrtle march all over their arch-rivals.
The moment of madness belonged to yesteryear, yet summed up one of the more stunning editions of rugby league's oldest rivalry.
The Rabbitohs laughing and loving life. The Roosters punch drunk and beaten senseless, by themselves and the opposition.
The concern around Keary, Lam and Collins – more than salt in the freshest of wounds.
With Suluka-Fifita punching Arrow in the back of the head at the bottom of a ruck, after just two minutes on the field, the Roosters effectively waved the red flag.
Down 14-0 after a slew of first-half mistakes, the Chooks were all-but cooked as Arrow and Waerea-Hargreaves waged a slanging, smashing match up and down Stadium Australia.
Suluka-Fifita was the unlikeliest source of the Tricolours' tensions boiling over, lashing out at Arrow with the ugliest of brain snaps.
NRL.com understands that Suluka-Fifita apologised to Arrow with the pair shaking hands and moving on from the incident after full-time.
"You can't do that in our game, it's pretty simple," Robinson said.
"He's really passionate Dan as a footy player and a quiet guy but really determined.
Suluka-Fifita sent to sin bin for punch
"He's a front-rower but expressing yourself that way is not the way to go. He'll pick up his lessons from that."
Arrow has only been at Redfern for three games, having made his way south from the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast on a $3 million-plus four-year deal.
Already you suspect he has a special place in red-and-green hearts and minds though after his street-fighting demolition job on their Anzac Parade nemeses.
Waerea-Hargreaves may yet have concern for flying to close to the sun with a high shot on Latrell Mitchell in the second half.
Mitchell flicks a pass to Walker around the ruck
But Mitchell and his mates had chalked up two competition points long before that, courtesy of the 24 unanswered points they had already rattled up.
None were more influential than Cody Walker.
It was Walker that conducted the unforgettable 60-8 rout on the same turf last September.
Before 22,838 fans he simply kept running rings around them.
At the seventh minute he cut inside early, found Keary wanting and a simple passage to the line from a Mitchell dummy-half scurry.
It was Dane Gagai strolling over when Souths came left again. By that stage the Roosters had already put it on a platter with five errors in the first 15 minutes.
Adam Reynolds was happy to feast, laying on four repeat sets from his boot in total.
When the Rabbitohs had exhausted their lethal left edge, they found favour down the right.
Josh Mansour crossed soon after Suluka-Fifita's brain explosion, bagging his first Rabbitohs try a decade after coming through their junior ranks.
Bunnies left edge continues to dominate
Walker scored again after the break before James Tedesco finally got the Roosters on the board.
But by the time Josh Morris added a late salvo, an ambulance had already been called for Collins, who had been joined by Lam in the dressing room.
Keary would soon join them in the casualty ward, rounding out one of the Roosters' rougher nights in the game's oldest rivalry.
Bunnies make the most of extra man as Mansour scores