Cronk feeling pinch in fitness battle

A sleep-deprived Cooper Cronk is burning the midnight oil in a bid to prove his fitness for Queensland ahead of Wednesday night’s State of Origin opener in Sydney.

NSW have accused Queensland of playing mind games after Cronk left training on Friday nursing a rolled ankle.

But Queensland back-rower Sam Thaiday says Cronk’s injury is very real, revealing the halfback’s round-the-clock icing had been taking its toll at their Gold Coast camp.

“He’s a pretty positive person. He will do anything and everything he can to play,” Thaiday said.

“His biggest drama at the moment is lack of sleep because he has been up most nights icing it to get the swelling out.”

Lock Corey Parker believed Cronk would be given until match eve to prove his fitness.

He believed Cronk would only play if he was 100 per cent, saying no one would roll the dice with their fitness in an Origin clash.

“I haven’t really seen him, he’s stuck in his room the whole time,” Parker said.

“It was just one of those training accidents that happen sometimes but he’s the ultimate professional.

“I don’t know about more miracles but he will give himself every opportunity he can to take the field.

“He won’t take the field if he feels there is any doubt.”

North Queensland’s Michael Morgan has slotted into pivot alongside Cowboys halves partner Johnathan Thurston at Queensland training in Cronk’s absence.

Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans has flown up to the Gold Coast camp and is expected to be the bench utility if Cronk fails to recover.

Thaiday backed Thurston to step up in Cronk’s absence in Origin I.

“JT has only grown and gotten better as a player,” Thaiday said of the four time Dally M Medallist.

“He will take control along with Smithy (captain Cameron Smith).

“I am sure he can take the role on at Origin and lead the team to victory if need be.”

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