Game-breaking halfback Cooper Cronk is set to answer an SOS from Queensland and return from a knee injury for the State of Origin decider.
Sorely missed in the Maroons’ game two loss, Cronk has been doing everything he can following surgery to be available for the Suncorp Stadium showdown on July 8.
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said on Saturday he would back him in to play, with his recovery ahead of schedule.
“If I was a betting man I would back him in,” Bellamy said.
“He will be back sooner than anyone else because of the professional way he treats his injury.
“When he’s actually back, I’m not quite sure but I think it will be sooner rather than later.”
Cronk, and also star Storm fullback Billy Slater, will miss their clash with NRL competition leaders Brisbane at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Slater’s season is over with shoulder surgery scheduled for next week. The Storm next face the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground on Monday week.
Bellamy hinted that Cronk could play then, but felt the Test No.7 could easily play the final Origin without another club game.
“I would support that because Cooper Cronk has done a lot for this club and I know how important Origin is to him,” Bellamy said. “If that’s his next game then so be it.”