NSW fans will be hoping Blues coach Laurie Daley has a plan B, or even a plan C, as injuries continue to hamper his State of Origin preparations.
Sydney Roosters playmaker James Maloney is in doubt for the interstate series opener on May 28 after injuring his shoulder in the premiers’ Anzac Day win over St George Illawarra.
And possible replacement Todd Carney missed most of Cronulla’s win over Penrith on Saturday with a hamstring complaint.
Maloney’s recovery from a grade 2 AC joint separation is around four weeks, which means he is touch and go for the Suncorp Stadium opener on May 28.
Whether Daley wants to risk a player freshly back from a shoulder problem in game one is another matter.
Carney went for scans on Saturday night with the results likely known on Sunday, but Sharks interim coach Peter Sharp was not optimistic about the outlook.
Roosters centre Michael Jennings was another Anzac Day casualty, limping off late with an ankle injury, but he is expected to be fit for Origin selection.
Those injury concerns come just two week after Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah suffered a dislocated elbow.
Kurt Gidley, Michael Ennis and Nathan Peats are all in the running for Farah’s hooking role, with Farah unlikely to win a race against the clock to take the field in Brisbane.
Canterbury No.6 Josh Reynolds has now emerged as the favourite to be NSW’s five-eighth, after he enjoyed a points decision over Newcastle playmaker Jarrod Mullen in the Bulldogs win over the Knights on Saturday night.
NSW’s strength is the back-row and Daley may be forced to use his creative forwards here as playmaking options with Cronulla’s Wade Graham building an near-irresistible case for his inclusion.
Graham has been the Sharks’ best this year and in the club’s win over the Panthers on Saturday, filling in a vital utility role in the absence of Carney.
Sharp said Graham would be invaluable to Daley’s side.
“He can play just about anywhere,” Sharp said.
“Wade is a real asset.”