Brad Arthur was stunned to learn Mitch Moses had fractured his back in State of Origin III after the Parramatta halfback bounced into training wanting to back up against Gold Coast a day later.
However, Arthur was perceptive enough to know Moses was struggling after copping a hit from Queensland forward Felise Kaufusi early in the first half of NSW's 20-18 loss.
Scans confirmed the 26-year-old has fractured a small bone in his back which can be managed, although the diagnosis surprised Arthur.
"Just because of the way he bounced in. He said he was fine," Arthur said on Wednesday.
"He was talking like he wanted to play (the Titans, two days after Origin III).
"But obviously our medical guys wanted to get it looked at and I'm glad we did now because we know it's an injury we can manage and it's more around pain tolerance."
Arthur is hoping Moses will be available next week if he can start running without discomfort and he has already started doing light weights.
"He tried to do a light run and it just wasn't quite right so we didn't feel like we needed to risk him at this stage of the year," Arthur said ahead of Thursday's clash with Canberra.
"Yes, we wanted him in the team but we also need him at the back end of the year.
"He's not taking any painkillers so that's a positive sign, and he's managed to do a couple of weights sessions so that's a positive sign."
Meanwhile, Arthur has recalled off-contract winger Blake Ferguson to the NRL side after an extended stint in reserve grade where he was asked to work on his defence.
The axing of the ex-NSW and Australia winger came as a shock for round 13, days after Eels were thrashed 38-20 by South Sydney.
"Fergo is obviously an Origin player, Australian player, won premierships, his experience will be valuable for us," Arthur said.
"For us to win the big games at the right end of the season, last year we scored four tries in each of our finals but our defence wasn't good enough, so our systems are a real priority for us.
"There were some things I'd asked Blake to go away and work on with his systems.
"We're third in the comp for tries against and tackle efficiency, so we're not concerned about blokes making their tackles, we're more concerned about blokes sticking to the system.
"That was what we asked Blake to go away and work on."
Australian Associated Press