Title favourites Wigan are sweating over the availability of hooker Michael McIlorum for the Super League play-offs.
The 24-year-old McIlorum has missed just one game in the last two seasons, but his 2012 campaign could be over after he was given a three-match ban for the high tackle that resulted in his dismissal against St Helens last Friday.
Wigan say they will appeal against the suspension but, if they are unsuccessful, they could be forced to throw an inexperienced Logan Tomkins into the side for the Grand Final series.
Wigan take on Catalan Dragons in the first qualifying play-off at the DW Stadium on Friday, when a victory would take them straight through to the semi-finals and to within 80 minutes of the Grand Final.
A defeat would mean an extra game for the Warriors the following weekend against one of the winners of this weekend's elimination play-offs and make McIlorum available for the Old Trafford decider if they get there.
McIlorum's dismissal, for a high and late tackle on St Helens prop Anthony Laffranchi, came two months after he was sent off for punching in the match against Bradford but on that occasion he avoided a ban.
He was given his marching orders just 15 minutes into the derby against Saints, which they lost 26-18, and stand-off Brett Finch admits his absence from the play-offs would represent a major blow.
"Micky's a huge loss for us," Finch said. "Obviously you saw the effect when he wasn't on the field at the weekend. He's such a competitor, aggressive and tough."