Queensland coach Mal Meninga says halfback Cooper Cronk will be picked for the State of Origin decider despite still nursing a knee complaint.
return to the field before July 8’s Origin III in Brisbane.
However, Meninga said he would have picked Cronk for Origin III regardless of whether the Storm No.7 played against the Bulldogs.
He also hinted that Canberra’s Josh Papalii may replace injured forward Josh McGuire, who ruptured his Achilles in Brisbane’s 44-22 NRL win over Newcastle on Friday night.
Queensland’s game three team will be unveiled on Monday in Brisbane.
“He’ll be fine for Origin…our medicos are telling us he’ll be sweet for Origin III,” Meninga said of Cronk on ABC Grandstand radio program.
Raiders giant Papalii and Sydney Roosters enforcer Dylan Napa are considered contenders to fill the Maroons interchange vacancy created by Broncos prop McGuire’s season-ending injury.
Meninga also threw Newcastle’s Korbin Sims into the mix with Napa and Papalii, who have all enjoyed time in a Queensland Origin camp as part of an extended squad.
“We’ve got Josh McGuire out so a person like Dylan Napa or Josh Papalii who’ve been in the camp through the series – Korbin Sims as well they’re the obvious answers there,” Meninga said of McGuire’s replacement.
“If you look at experience then Josh Papalii’s probably in front of both those two younger fellas.
“I think experience is key when it comes to deciders in Origin.”
Newcastle’s Dane Gagai is also set to feature in a Queensland backline reshuffled due to fullback Billy Slater’s season-ending shoulder injury.
Greg Inglis is set to slot into fullback, Will Chambers into the centres and Gagai on the wing for Origin III.
With Cronk fit, North Queensland bench utility Michael Morgan is expected to step aside for game two halfback Daly Cherry-Evans on the interchange.