WEST Hartlepool have been hit with a double hammer blow ahead of their National Three North trip to Penrith (kick-off 2pm).
West, who go into visit to Cumbria with four wins in their last five league games, have lost talisman Gareth Foreman and powerful number eight Craig Gilmour.
Foreman damaged ribs in the Boxing Day win at former club Rovers while Gilmour suffered a serious shoulder injury in the opening minute at the Friarage.
Luckless Gilmour, who had just been getting into his stride in West’s league XV, will miss the rest of the season after having surgery.
And West are waiting for a full prognosis on Foreman, who has been an inspirational figure since his transfer to Brinkburn in the summer of 2010.
The versatile and gifted Stuart Waites will take the number 10 jersey at Winters Park.
Director of rugby Kevan Oliphant shrugged: “It was an expensive game for us.
“Gilly has had an op on his shoulder which has needed a plate putting in.
“It’s a blow for him and for us too, he had come into the side and was playing well.
“We’re not yet sure how bad the damage is for Gareth, but he could be out for quite a few weeks.
“It’s not ideal to lose him and a year ago we might have been worried if we’d lost him.
“But Stuey is a pretty good 10 who can come in and do a good job – he’s come on so much over the last year.”
SEE Friday’s Mail for full story