NSW State of Origin rookie Wade Graham will miss the team’s first training run when he departs camp in Coffs Harbour to fight for his Blues debut at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday.
While the Blues go through their paces for the first time at midday, the Cronulla second-rower will board a flight back to Sydney.
The 25-year-old is desperate to overturn a grade one careless high tackle charge for his shot on North Queensland co-captain Johnathan Thurston in the Sharks’ NRL win on Monday.
Graham’s legal counsel Nick Ghabar is expected to argue that Thurston was falling when the impact was made, and that Graham’s first point of contact was also with the Dally M Medallist’s arm.
Ghabar famously helped former Blues pivot Josh Reynolds downgrade a dangerous throw charge on Brent Tate that allowed Reynolds to play in the Blues’ series-clinching win in 2014.
He also successfully beat a dangerous throw charge slapped on Justin Hodges last year, freeing the Brisbane centre to take part in a farewell grand final appearance before retiring.
Should Graham successfully top the charge, he will then rejoin his teammates on the mid-north coast on Thursday and will have just five sessions at most to ready himself for a daunting Origin debut in Brisbane.
However, should Graham fail, his dream of playing for the Blues for the first time will be cruelly taken away and he’ll remain at home in Sydney to serve out a one-game suspension.
“It’s obviously a bit of a rollercoaster, the last 12 hours – first to get selected and now being charged,” Graham said when he arrived in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.
“So it’s hard to process at the moment but, obviously, (in) 24 hours, we’ll get through it – just take a breath now that we’re in camp.
“Obviously, there’s disappointment. We’ll head back to Sydney now and fight it. Cronulla have been in contact already; they’ve been working with NSWRL and obviously me in fighting the charge.”
Blues coach Laurie Daley is hopeful the judiciary panel will sympathise with Graham.
“We can’t control what’s happened. He’ll stay with us and work out what he’s going to do and we’ll give him the support that he needs and move on,” Daley said.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see the best players miss out. But again, that’s not our decision, that’s up to the judiciary panel and hopefully they see it through in our favour.”