The early signs weren’t good but Queensland are confident winger Dane Gagai will prove his fitness for Wednesday night’s second State of Origin game.
Gagai left Queensland’s first training session at their Gold Coast camp early after failing to run with the main group as he battled a quad complaint on Thursday.
North Queensland flyer Kyle Feldt is on standby after being rushed into the squad and impressed when he slotted in for Gagai training on the right wing.
Gagai took part in light duties on the sidelines before leaving the training field barely 30 minutes into the session.
He is the latest injury concern after the Maroons’ build-up to game one was dominated by halfback Cooper Cronk’s fitness battle.
Cronk somehow overcame a rolled ankle in five days to play a leading hand in Queensland’s 6-4 win in Sydney.
“I think he is in a better situation than I was,” Cronk said of Gagai.
“He has been managing his injury for the last couple of weeks and we have excellent medical staff here.”
Queensland coach Kevin Walters also backed Gagai to overcome the quad strain which he claimed had been niggling the Newcastle strike weapon for weeks.
“He picked it up after game one,” Walters told Fox Sports TV.
“They should be able to get him right. It’s more precautionary than anything (bringing in Feldt).”
Walters still backed Feldt to slot in for Gagai if their worst fears were realised.
Days before Queensland’s game one team was named, Feldt dropped three balls in 15 minutes against the Broncos and selectors promptly gave Brisbane’s Corey Oates an Origin debut instead.
“He had one of those off nights,” Walters said of Feldt’s round 11 debacle.
“We know he is in great touch for the Cowboys.
“We will make sure he will be right on that wing if he gets that opportunity.”
Cronk is seen as a medical marvel after also coming back early for Queensland from a knee injury last year and a broken arm in 2014.
But he reckoned there weren’t too many tips he could pass onto Gagai.
“I am not sure what to say – maybe stick your leg up and ice it as long as you can,” Cronk laughed.
“But he will be right.
“No one in this football team is going to put their hand up to play if they are not capable of doing their job for the whole 80 minutes.”
NSW accused Queensland of mind games when they heard Cronk was battling an ankle complaint ahead of game one.
But Cronk said the injury scare was very real.
“There was no smoke and mirrors. I was gone,” he said.
“But on Monday (two days before game one) the footy Gods looked after me, we got the swelling out of the joint – I grit the teeth and got it done.”