Panthers TV: Leilani Latu
Panthers enforcer Leilani Latu has revealed the extent of his jaw injury sustained against the Bulldogs that has ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
The prop came off second best following a collision with opposing forward James Graham that left him with a broken jaw which required surgery to insert a metal plate and will leave him without his wisdom teeth.
"It was just an unfortunate event," Latu said.
"James Graham was running at me and my head got in to the wrong position and his head clashed with mine.
"I just felt my bone break in my mouth and I instantly started getting unsure of how severe the injury was and if I was going to miss the whole season."
Scans eventually confirmed Latu’s initial fears with the injury expected to rule him out for three months and bring an end to his 2017 campaign.
"I can't do any contact for three months. The bone needs to heal properly with the plate in it," Latu said.
"In about a month's time I’ll go back to the doctor and he's going to take these braces off, my plate out and my wisdom teeth out."
A lack of freedom with his jaw moment as a result of the injury has forced Latu in to altering his diet and eating patterns, resulting in a few cheeky digs from wife Kenina.
"The first couple of days after I had my operation I had to rethink my whole diet," Latu said.
"I've just been having a lot of soup, a lot of puree, just to get it in to my mouth because my jaw is wired.
"My wife has been telling everyone it’s like having a baby at home.
"She purees a lot of the food for me…herself and my mum made heaps of soups and pre-packed them in the freezer for me."
Despite not being able to return to the field, Latu is determined to have an impact off the field as the Panthers look to charge in to the finals in both the NRL and Intrust Super Premiership NSW competitions.
"The week leading in to the (Wests) Tigers game I was really down in the dumps just for missing out on playing footy," Latu said.
"But this past weekend against the Cowboys I made it a mission to come out here just to show myself amongst the boys and be part of the warm-up.
“Even though you're not actually part of the playing team, you're still part of the group.
"Now that I'm out for the season I’m just trying to put as much time and effort in to the boys as I can - that's both with first grade and NSW Cup with Garth Brennan.
"I've offered my services out to the staff and to the boys as well if they need help with review or anything."