Queensland are holding their breath after Cooper Cronk suffered a knee injury as Melbourne bounced back in their 20-0 NRL win over Penrith on Saturday night.
The Storm, Maroons and Australian halfback went from the field with a torn meniscus in his right knee with 20 minutes to go and went straight up the tunnel to receive treatment.
Cronk received attention on the sideline early in the second half before returning to make a try-saving tackle on Tyrone Peachey, however he left the field soon after.
Initial reports were that Cronk’s injury was minor and he will be fit for State of Origin II in Melbourne on June 17, however it will place him under a worrying injury cloud.
Star fullback Billy Slater was rested by the Storm due to his heavy workload during the representative period however the club said he was in no danger of missing Origin II.
Despite Slater’s absence the Storm were solid as they rebounded from their heavy loss to the Sydney Roosters just five days earlier and consolidated their spot in the top four.
The Storm got on the front foot early through Blake Green when he picked up the crumbs after a Cronk kick cannoned off the head of former Melbourne player Sika Manu.
Slater’s replacement Cameron Munster was a standout at the back, producing a powerful fend on Peter Wallace for Melbourne’s second try, while up the other end he came up with an important try-saving tackle on Waqa Blake.
Penrith were muted in the first half and when Melbourne caught the Penrith defence short on the left edge, Green strolled over for his second for an 18-0 Storm halftime lead.
Green was excellent for Melbourne, looking dangerous when he took on the line and consistently found grass with the boot.
A Cameron Smith penalty goal was the only points of the second half as the Storm ran out easy winners.
The Panthers missed the kicking game and leadership of playmaker Jamie Soward, out with a shoulder injury.
However, they were their own worst enemies with poor handling – making an error in each of their first three sets of the second half – and ill discipline.
The Panthers completed just 19 of their 37 sets, missed 27 tackles to Melbourne’s nine, made 18 handling errors and gave away seven penalties.