NSW hooker Robbie Farah will have his fractured hand assessed by medical staff while the Blues investigate a loophole which could allow Michael Ennis to play the State of Origin decider.
Farah saw a specialist on Monday after scans revealed a fracture to the fourth metacarpal of his right hand – one that typically needs four weeks to heal – suffered in the club’s defeat to Penrith on Sunday.
Farah admitted to the Nine Network that his hand was “pretty uncomfortable” but he’d be going into camp with the Blues and would do all he could to play.
“They (Blues coaching staff) want me there,” Farah said.
“And I said to them `if they want me there I’ll do everything I can to be there’.
“It’s a culture that we are trying to build within this group, to put the team first and that’s what I’ll do.”
While Farah is in a race against the clock prove his fitness for next week’s Game III in Brisbane, his back up Ennis is also facing a nervous wait to see if he is available should the Wests Tigers skipper fall short.
The Cronulla rake was slapped with a grade-one careless high-tackle charge by the NRL match review committee on Monday.
He has 38 carry-over points from a contrary conduct charge in round two and is facing a one-week suspension with an early guilty plea.
While that would ordinarily rule him out of Origin, the NRL is investigating a loophole which could pave the way for Ennis to run out at Suncorp Stadium.
Should Ennis not be named by Blues coach Laurie Daley on Tuesday, he would serve his suspension for the Sharks this weekend.
If Farah is subsequently ruled out, Ennis would be free to then take his place in the Blues squad as any player’s suspension ends following the final game of the premiership round.
An NRL spokesman said no comment would be made about Ennis while his case was before the match review committee however they were looking at the rules.
A similar loophole was exploited by Queensland during the 2002 series when they named “TBA” on the team sheet on the wing which allowed Lote Tuqiri to serve a ban at club level with the Brisbane Broncos and then play Origin.
Queensland and NSW subsequently agreed that the tactic should be banned.
An NRL spokesman said Ennis’ and Tuqiri’s cases were different and the governing body was examining the situation.
A third candidate, Parramatta’s Nathan Peats, remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Super League-bound Melbourne utility Ryan Hinchcliffe would almost certainly come into contention, as would dumped Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds.
In some good news for Daley, second-rower Beau Scott was cleared of any serious damage to his left shoulder after lasting just 14 minutes in Newcastle’s defeat to Brisbane last Friday night.
Centre Michael Jennings is also expected to be named despite his recent arrest for a wild night out in Parramatta that resulted in his arrest, a club-imposed one-game ban and $20,000 fine.
It has no doubt been a turbulent lead-up to Daley naming the team on Tuesday, however, should Farah play and Canterbury’s Origin contingent pull up healthy after Monday night’s encounter with Melbourne, the Blues will head to Brisbane with the same 17 that levelled the series at the MCG.
Prop Aaron Woods told AAP he expected Queensland’s forward pack to look for revenge after getting outplayed by the Blues’ big men in Game II.
“They’re going to be hunting everybody,” he said.
“There’s a lot of talk about our pack being good so they’ve got a bit of a point to prove.
“(But) we’re going to go out hunting as well, don’t you worry about that.”
Likely NSW team for Game III: Josh Dugan, Will Hopoate, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Beau Scott, Ryan Hoffman, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: Trent Merrin, Boyd Cordner, David Klemmer, Josh Jackson.