A stomach bug has done what many NSW sides have failed to do in the past decade – cause major problems for Queensland.
Jacob Lillyman has been quarantined at the Maroons’ Gold Coast camp after up to six players were affected by the illness in a nightmare build-up to Wednesday’s second State of Origin game.
The Maroons had already been sweating on the fitness of winger Dane Gagai (quad), who again didn’t train with the main group on Friday.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters – before just his second game at the helm – admits he couldn’t believe his bad luck.
He was keeping his fingers crossed the full squad would assemble for their next training run on Sunday, which will be their main session before Origin II.
“That’s Origin. You think you have smooth sailing then suddenly you hit rough waters,” Walters said of his plight.
“But I don’t think it will affect us too much – we will be right for Sunday.
“That’s a big session for us.
“We need to get a few things right (then) to be ready for the Blues.”
Before the illness hit, Queensland would have backed themselves to clinch a 10th series win in 11 years on Wednesday night.
Queensland have won nine of their past 12 home Origins, and they have claimed nine of 11 Origin II games in Brisbane, winning six straight since 2002.
But NSW will give themselves a chance to break their Suncorp Stadium hoodoo after Queensland’s game two preparation hit a low on Friday.
Warriors forward Lillyman was absent from Friday’s training session while Aidan Guerra, Matt Scott and Corey Oates were on light duties due to illness.
Winger Oates started with the main group but was relegated to light drills after being physically ill on the sideline.
Walters said players had been battling the bug since arriving at the Gold Coast camp on Wednesday.
“Up to six of the boys over the last few days had suffered some cramping of the stomach and vomiting,” Walters said.
“Jacob has been hit the worst. He’s been knocked around a fair bit.
“Hopefully he will be right.
“But it’s not a major issue for us.
“I think we are on top of it. Hopefully the full squad will be available on Sunday.”
North Queensland backrower Ethan Lowe is 18th man. He arrived at the camp on Friday and took part in training.
Walters didn’t expect to call in more players as cover.
They already have Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt on standby for Gagai.
Feldt has trained on the right wing with Queensland since Thursday.
Walters is confident Gagai will prove his fitness on Sunday.
“He is looking good. We will give him a good test on Sunday and see how it goes,” he said.