Most concerns were centred on NSW’s hooking crisis on the opening day of State of Origin camp, but Blues coach Laurie Daley will also have to keep tabs on skipper Paul Gallen.
The NSW veteran hasn’t played since copping a knock to the ribs in the first half of game two in Melbourne, but Daley had no hesitation in selecting Gallen for next week’s decider in Brisbane.
Gallen, 33, declared he was in no doubt for the all-important clash but admitted he would be avoiding contact for most of the lead-up to Suncorp Stadium.
“I’ll be able to train from day one (but) I’ll stay out of contact for as long as I can,” he said at the team announcement.
“It’s getting better but from what I’ve been told – I’ve never had a serious rib injury before – it’s going to hang around for a long time so I’ll just keep doing my best.”
Gallen was forced from the field after picking up the injury in Melbourne, but returned for a second stint and finished the match with figures of 135 metres and 34 tackles.
Despite missing his club’s recent loss to Brisbane, the Sharks captain was adamant he’ll be able to replicate his effort in Melbourne next Wednesday night.
“It definitely improved the first week a real lot and that’s why I had ambitions to play on the weekend,” he said.
“But it sort of just plateaued a bit which was frustrating. It’s feeling okay. It’s more of an uncomfortable feeling now rather than acute pain.
“I’m not in any doubt, I’ll be on the field.”
The Blues haven’t won a deciding game in Brisbane since 2005, however Gallen urged his team to remember the result from last year’s series-opener in the Sunshine State.
“It’s a massive task, but this group of people have done it before and with Laurie as coach,” he said.
“We did it game one last year and we managed to wrap up the series in game two so while it’s a great place to play at, we shouldn’t go up with a daunted feeling, or feel threatened.
“It’s a wonderful place to play at. The Queenslanders are passionate and we all know the way they carry on so to beat them up there would be outstanding.”