SAINTS have suffered a blow after prop Alex Walmsley was ruled out for the rest of the 2018 season.

Walmsley has been training well since recovering from the surgery on a broken bone in his neck, sustained in the win at Warrington in March.

However, a second opinion on earlier negative scan results confirm that the powerhouse front row will now not feature until 2019.

It is a blow for the league leaders, who were hoping for a giant-sized bonus in time for the crunch Super League semi-finals.

Coach Justin Holbrook said: “The news on Big Al is disappointing.

“We went and got a second opinion on it because the first guy wanted us to wait another month.

“We felt like Al was going so well at training, which he is, but unfortunately he (the specialist) said the same thing as the first.

“There is not enough bone re-growth there to allow him to play rugby league in the next few weeks.

“He said he could not see it having enough growth in the next six weeks to warrant playing him.

“There is no issue with him and he is lifting heavier weights in training and running fine, but in the end it is going to be next year now.

“The great thing is that he is going to be stronger in the neck than prior to the injury but we have just run out of time racing the clock for this season unfortunately.

“If he had got the all clear we would have definitely played him because he has worked so hard to get back – that’s why it is disappointing for hin and us.

“It would have been a nice little bonus to have him back late in the season but it is not to be.”

In Walmsley’s place Luke Thompson has taken his play up a notch, and the displays of Jack Ashworth in his last two run outs will maintain pressure on the other front rowers.

In other injury news centre Ryan Morgan has now been cleared to play after a lay-off with his latest head knock.

Dom Peyroux is still five weeks away, and is due anther X-ray in two weeks.

Holbrook said: “Ryan was cleared on Monday by the head specialist and can now do full training.

“I have just got to make sure he gets through with no symptoms and then he will be right to go.

“It has not been great and that is why he has had a few weeks off this time, and not just the minimum protocol rest. That has has given it more time.

“He has seen the head specialist and neuro-surgeon and they said there are no signs of any issues,but we have done the right thing by him as a club.”