Queensland are hopeful an ankle injury to Cooper Cronk is not as serious as first feared, but the halfback remains in doubt for next week’s State of Origin series opener.
A fortnight after being booed at Suncorp Stadium, Daly Cherry-Evans will be rushed into the Maroons camp on Saturday as cover for Cronk.
The possibility of the Melbourne playmaker missing game one looked likely on Friday after he rolled his ankle at training on the Gold Coast.
But on Friday evening, Queensland doctor Matt Hislop said precautionary scans on Cronk’s injury were encouraging and it was hoped aggressive treatment would ensure he’s right to take on NSW.
“Cooper rolled his ankle when he stood on another player’s boot,” Hislop said.
“We sent him off for precautionary scans, the result of which were quite encouraging.
“We’re going to treat it aggressively over the next few days and give him every chance to play on Wednesday night.”
Before the scans came back, coach Kevin Walters was clearly concerned by Cronk’s state.
“He is in doubt,” Walters said.
“(The ankle) swelled up like a pretty big balloon.
“Cooper was a bit worried, a bit shocked.”
Cherry-Evans being on standby caps a remarkable turnaround for the Manly playmaker.
He was Queensland’s starting halfback in Origin II in 2015, albeit as an injured Cronk’s replacement.
But by game three he was overlooked completely, failing to even nab a bench utility role.
Cherry-Evans has also not endeared himself to Queensland fans after his infamous Gold Coast Titans contract backflip in 2015.
It ensured he was a booed again when he ran out for Manly in their NRL loss to Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium barely two weeks ago.
However, all will be forgiven when he arrives at the Maroons camp.
Cherry-Evans had been expected to attend training on Friday after being asked along with other fringe players to take part in the opposed session.
But he was a no-show along with fellow Sea Eagle Brenton Lawrence after they were stranded at Sydney airport due to strong winds.
Cherry-Evans was initially asked to attend only the Friday session and had been required back at Manly by Sunday.
However, he looks set to extend his stay after the injury drama.
“I haven’t had time to think about those (contingencies) yet but, yeah, DCE is coming in,” Walters said.
“He’s been stranded on the tarmac in Sydney.
“The winds of NSW were blowing. Bloody Blues got us again.
“But we will give Cooper every chance to keep his spot. He is a good healer.”
Cherry-Evans appears set for a bench spot if Cronk is ruled out, with Michael Morgan already in camp.
The Maroons bench utility is an ideal fit in the starting side alongside Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston, his Cowboys halves partner.
“We’ve got a bloke called Michael Morgan who slotted in not too badly in five-eighth,” Walters said.
Walters has also toyed with the idea of an all-forwards bench if Cronk is ruled out, with Warriors backrower Jacob Lillyman also entering camp on Friday.