RUGBY LEAGUE: Newcastle forward Pauli Pauli has been involved in a serious car crash on Wednesday night.
The Knights prop was one of eight people injured according to NSW police in a seven-car pileup on the M1 north of Sydney at around 9.30pm on Wednesday.
NSW Police confirmed via a statement that one of the injured remains in a critical condition, with a number of children taken to hospital as a precaution.
The Knights released a statement early on Thursday morning advising that Pauli was involved in the accident and is currently in Gosford Hospital recovering.
It is believed the 22-year-old has sustained serious leg and hip injuries in the crash, placing his availability for the start of the 2017 season in doubt.
The news continues a week of horror headlines for the Newcastle club, who are just six weeks out from their round one clash with the Warriors on March 5, with the Auckland Nines also a little over a fortnight away.
The Knights and the NRL community were rocked earlier this week by revelations star five-eighth Jarrod Mullen has tested positive to the banned anabolic steroid Drostanolone, resulting in a provisional suspension.
Mullen's career is most likely over as he faces a potential four-year ban from ASADA unless testing of his B-sample can prove his innocence.
The Knights are also considering whether to release prop Korbin Sims from the final year of his contract at the promising front-rower's request.
Sims, who has been included in Queensland's Origin squads in previous seasons, has been linked to Brisbane and Souths in the past week.
A serious injury to Pauli would further deplete Newcastle's slim forward stocks and could impact any decision around Sims' immediate playing future.
Pauli joined the Knights this time last year from Parramatta on a two-year deal as his junior club looked to free up salary cap space following the signing of star centre Michael Jennings.
A promising junior rep who has played for NSW under 20s and Australian schoolboys, Pauli clocked up 15 games for Newcastle in 2016 after two years with the Eels.
He has played 48 NRL matches to date.