It may not have been as dramatic as Trevor Gillmeister’s 1995 heroics but Queensland hope Greg Inglis’s emergence from a hospital bed will be just as influential in the State of Origin opener.
The Maroons cut an assured figure when they arrived in Sydney on Sunday night with Inglis safely on board their flight.
However, it appears there were some anxious moments for Queensland before Inglis finally received the green light for Wednesday night’s Origin I at ANZ Stadium.
Maroons back-rower Sam Thaiday revealed Inglis had spent three nights in hospital with tonsillitis before officially getting the Origin thumbs up along with fellow star centre Justin Hodges (foot) on Sunday.
“The doc has been looking after GI very closely,” he said of Inglis who underwent blood tests on Friday.
“He’s been in hospital for three days so it must have been bad.
“(But after) being in the hospital for three days all by himself he’ll be jumping around and keen to get out there and prove a point not just to the boys here but everyone else out there as well.”
Inglis was quarantined last week at Queensland’s Gold Coast camp but finally joined his teammates on Sunday, albeit to watch training from the sidelines.
His return did not quite rival the comeback of Gillmeister who famously risked his life by leaving hospital to lead the Maroons to a 3-0 1995 series win before checking himself back in to treat a blood disorder.
Still, Inglis received a round of applause from teammates when he joined them at their last training session before they flew out to Sydney.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga tried to play down Inglis’s hospital stay.
“The doc’s normally conservative with these sorts of illnesses,” he said.
“There’s been an epidemic of tonsillitis and viral flu at the moment so (he was) just being precautionary to make sure we look after one of our very valuable players.”
In another encouraging sign, Meninga sent standby centre Dane Gagai back to Newcastle for their Monday night NRL clash with Brisbane after Hodges also returned to training on Sunday.
Inglis will only have one training session before Queensland launch their quest for Origin redemption against title holders NSW – not that Meninga was worried.
“Greg’s played 24 Origin games,” said Meninga.
“Our systems don’t change and he knows how we want to play.
“He’s smart enough to tell me that if he’s not 100 per cent and whether he would jeopardise the team.
“We’ll monitor it over the next few days but we’ve still got four days so we’ll be fine.”
Thaiday seemed unfazed by yet another injury-interrupted Origin build-up for Queensland.
“You kind of get used to these things now these days,” Thaiday shrugged.
“You have players that are saved up to the last minute to train and they usually get on the field and play the best game of their lives – hopefully that is the same in this case.”