NSW skipper Paul Gallen has accused Queensland of using halfback Cooper Cronk as a pawn in State of Origin mind games.
Uncertainty continues to surround Cronk’s availability for State of Origin I on Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium.
Cronk rolled his ankle at training last week and Maroons coach Kevin Walters has said he will be given until game day to prove his fitness.
But Gallen dismissed Cronk’s injury concerns as a Maroons charade.
“He will play – there is no doubt about it,” Gallen said on Tuesday at the NSW captain’s run at ANZ Stadium.
“Cooper is not one to play mind games so I think they are using him a bit of a pawn there, in the mind games that they get up to.
“Cooper is not that sort of a guy and I don’t think he will appreciate being treated like that. I think he will play.”
Gallen said the Blues weren’t buying into the fitness doubts over Cronk.
“We haven’t paid attention to it, though – we haven’t even spoken about Cooper,” he said.
“We are pretty confident he will play. He is the ultimate professional; he will be doing everything to get himself right.”
However, Walters denied any attempt at subterfuge at his match-eve media conference.
“I’m from Ipswich – we don’t know about smoke or mirrors. We are as honest as the day is long,” Walters said.
Origin hostilities resume on Wednesday after NSW’s record 52-6 thumping in last year’s decider delivered the shield back to Queensland.
Maroons captain Cameron Smith has said the Blues will still be dealing with the fallout from that horror defeat.
But Gallen denied that was the case.
“We were embarrassed, that is for sure, and there is no hiding from that,” Gallen said.
“We have looked at it and we have learned from it. But there is not an issue there. This is a new series and we are a new team.
“There is no hangover there.”