A final verdict on Daly Cherry-Evans’ fitness for next week’s State of Origin opener in Sydney won’t be made until Wednesday despite Queensland officials asking Michael Morgan to join the camp.
Reports emerged late on Tuesday that Cherry-Evans (shoulder) had failed a fitness test at the Maroons’ first training session in Brisbane.
The Manly playmaker had already raised eyebrows after missing the Queensland team unveiling in Brisbane because he was having scans in Sydney for an injury suffered in Monday night’s NRL clash with Penrith.
However, a Maroons official said a line had not been put through Cherry-Evans’ name – yet.
“The QRL has today announced that Cowboy Michael Morgan will join the Maroons squad,” he said.
“Medical staff are assessing the condition of Daly Cherry-Evans and an official decision will be made tomorrow.”
Queensland coach Mal Meninga earlier confirmed they would be taking a new tough love approach with injured players in their bid to reclaim the Origin trophy.
Meninga said the Maroons camp could no longer afford to be distracted by injury dramas after having their eight-straight series winning run snapped last year.
The Maroons sweated on the fitness of Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Cherry-Evans ahead of Origin II and Cooper Cronk before game three in 2014.
“It’s going to be based on a conversation with Daly on how he feels about everything,” Meninga said of Cherry-Evans’ fitness.
Meninga said he wanted to resist fighting fire with fire by throwing four forwards on the bench like NSW, insisting interchange utility Cherry-Evans would play if fit.
“We’ve seen the NSW side, they’re going with four big boppers on the bench,” Meninga said.
“I’ll talk to selectors and staff and the senior guys about what we need to combat that (if Cherry-Evans is cut).”
Morgan may have been called into the squad but it remains to be seen if Meninga opts to bulk up his bench with the 109kg, 194cm 18th man Dylan Napa if Cherry-Evans is out.
“If Dylan plays, he’ll handle it from a toughness point of view,” Meninga said of the Sydney Roosters enforcer.
Maroons selectors again largely kept the faith with their players, naming just one rookie on their bench – Broncos prop Josh McGuire.
Meanwhile, Maroons skipper Cameron Smith was relieved to be playing Origin I after lodging an early guilty plea to a dangerous contact charge from Melbourne’s last round NRL win over South Sydney.
But Meninga could not see anything in the incident.
“I thought it was a bit harsh, the charge initially,” he said.
“From a team perspective … we’re glad he’s there.”