Cooper under injury cloud for Origin II

Queensland will learn on Sunday if they will be without game-winning halfback Cooper Cronk for next week’s State of Origin II.

Cronk suffered a knee injury in Melbourne’s 20-0 NRL win over Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Sunday night, putting him in doubt for June 17’s Origin II in Melbourne.

While Melbourne said Cronk’s injury was not believed to be serious, the nature of the problem was not clear and the extent would not be known until the champion No.7 had scans on Sunday.

“I’m not quite sure what they think at the moment,” Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said.

“The doctor and physio just had a look at him there. They don’t think it’s too serious but they’re not quite sure what it is or how bad it is.”

Cronk’s loss would be a bitter blow for Queensland after his game-winning effort against NSW in Origin I.

The champion halfback booted the field goal that broke the deadlock in Queensland’s 11-10 win to put his state up 1-0 in the series.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga has handy options in the form of Daly Cherry-Evans, who returned for Manly against Brisbane on Friday, and Michael Morgan, who was good on debut off the bench in Origin I.

However Cronk’s loss would be felt heavily.

Queensland lost the opening two games of last year’s series after he went off with a broken arm early in the first game and missed the return encounter.

He is also a proven game-winner, having also kicked the winning field goal in the 2012 series decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Melbourne Storm and Queensland captain Cameron Smith said while it was not known if Cronk would be right, he expected him to play given his history of covering quickly from injury.

“We’ll have to find out a bit more about Cooper,” Smith said.

“I don’t think it’s too serious, I think it’s quite minor.

“We all know that he gets on top of his injuries better than anyone else.

“He’ll want to be there for his one.”

It was better news for fullback Billy Slater, who Bellamy called a certainty to line up for Origin II despite missing his second straight game for the Storm because of a shoulder injury.

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