Ahead of Friday's #NRL game between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, writer Rob C...
3 hours ago
Queensland began scouring its playing ranks for State of Origin answers on Thursday as questions continued to be posed about the state of the Suncorp Stadium playing surface.
The Maroons - without Justin Hodges (knee) and Paul Bowman (knee) for Origin II and in danger of losing Chris Flannery (shoulder) - will need to call on all their legendary spirit to keep the Origin series alive in Sydney in two weeks time.
NSW, on the other hand, emerged relatively untouched after last night's 25-12 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
The same couldn't be said for the surface at the $280 million ground after the Hodges and Bowman injuries.
Hodges, who will have a knee reconstruction next week and miss the rest of the season, was reluctant to blame the surface and Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr claimed there was nothing wrong with the ground.
"I have to say on Wednesday morning I walked every inch of it and it was fine," Carr said.
"It's not unsafe. They weren't injured by the ground. It (injuries) happens in our game, it happens all the time."
The Maroons were considering their options on Thursday to replace Bowman and Hodges.
Chairman of selectors Gene Miles confirmed the obvious names under consideration - Clinton Schifcofske, Robbie O'Davis, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Crocker, Billy Slater and Travis Norton.
Former Brisbane centre Chris Walker, recently signed by the Sydney Roosters, has also been mooted as a replacement provided he returns from a hamstring injury this weekend.
The Blues have few problems although prop Jason Ryles (shoulder) will miss St George Illawarra's match against Newcastle on Friday night.
He should be fit for Origin II.
His Dragons and NSW teammates Luke Bailey and Shaun Timmins are also in doubt for Friday night's game, but will play in the interstate rematch.
Knights and NSW hooker Danny Buderus will have x-rays on a hand injury on Friday but is expected to be fine while Ben Kennedy trained on Thursday despite his well-publicised hamstring problems.
Despite taking the upper hand with victory last night, the Blues weren't counting their chickens.
"We mentioned it, not to get carried away," Blues assistant coach and selector Laurie Daley said.
"We'll take nothing for granted because we were in this situation last year and it didn't work out for us.
"We still have a lot of work to be done if we want to win the series."