The most unlikely inspiration has Queensland prop Matt Scott primed for State of Origin glory despite an ongoing neck concern expected to require major surgery.
Scott says contemplating what has been a career-threatening operation for others is “not too scary” thanks to NSW rival James Tamou.
In a classic Origin “mate against mate” tale, Scott will fire up in July 8’s series decider after taking heart from his fellow North Queensland Cowboys bookend’s remarkable comeback from similar neck surgery.
Tamou feared he would follow in the footsteps of greats like Andrew Johns and retire in the aftermath of his late 2014 bulging disc operation when he struggled to hold a glass of water in the pre-season.
Fast forward six months and Tamou is leading a NSW pack that Scott admits has the “upper hand” ahead of a must win Origin III clash at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
“It (end of season surgery) is probably a high possibility at the moment,” Scott said on Thursday.
“Pretty much the same type of surgery if I get it done as big Jimmy had.
“(But) seeing how good that type of operation was for Jimmy and how well he’s come back gives me a bit of confidence.
“It’s not too scary.”
Scott was a late arrival at the Maroons’ Gold Coast camp for Origin III after remaining at his Townsville base to receive cortisone injections.
But he showed he was in little doubt by chiming in at Queensland’s first field session on Thursday.
“It’s something I’ve been playing with for a few years,” Scott said of the complaint.
“(It’s) just the disc and getting a bit of nerve pain referring down the arms.
“It’s just progressively worse so it’s something I’ve got to take care of a bit more.
“(But) it’s something that you learn to play and deal with – it’s a rugby league player’s curse.”
His wife needs a bit more convincing.
“My wife worries a little bit. Any surgery with the neck is a bit of a worry but this one is pretty low key compared with what you can do with the neck,” Scott said.
“I keep telling her it’s not dangerous and she still doesn’t believe me.”
Scott will receive pain killing injections for Origin III but expects Tamou and his Blues teammates to pose a different kind of pain in the neck.
“They’re coming off a victory. So they have earned the right to feel that they have the upper hand,” Scott said.
“(But) we love any sort of challenge in the forward pack.
“And it really is the whole pack. We have to sit down and take a look at where we were good and where we weren’t too good in game two.”
Other injury concerns Cooper Cronk (knee) and Josh Papalii (knee) took part in training with Darius Boyd (groin) restricted to light duties on Thursday as expected.