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3 days ago
Storm star Greg Inglis has volunteered to wear Darren Lockyer's No.6 Origin jumper but believes Johnathan Thurston and Scott Prince will be Queensland's halves if the inspirational five-eighth misses game one.
Lockyer's involvement in the State of Origin series - with the opening game in Sydney on May 21 - is uncertain after ongoing knee issues forced his withdrawal from Australia's Centenary Test side to play New Zealand in Sydney this Friday night.
After five scans to solve the mystery behind Lockyer's knee pain, Brisbane specialist Peter Meyers will perform an arthroscopy next week to clean out the joint.
Queensland announces its 17-man Origin squad Tuesday week.
Lockyer will be given every chance to prove his fitness but is at long odds to be named for game one.
Inglis said he'd love to play five-eighth in Lockyer's absence.
But he expects selectors will opt for Prince, who made his Origin debut in 2005 and who's in career best form with the Gold Coast Titans.
"I'll put my hand up for it but obviously we have Princey and JT playing out of their skins," Inglis said from Sydney.
"I'll probably get overlooked there, but then again, if I get a phone call asking if I'd be happy to play there, I'd be more than happy to do it."
Chief selector Des Morris said on Monday Lockyer's welfare was more important than Origin and there was no pressure on him to rush back.
"Because of his chequered comeback we've already discussed a plan B and we've got a few good options," Morris told AAP.
"Mal (coach Mal Meninga) will speak to Locky and sort out what's best for him and for the team.
"But there'll certainly be no pressure on him to play. His welfare and long term future come before anything else."
A devastated Lockyer, who flew back to Brisbane after breaking the news to Test coach Ricky Stuart in Sydney on Sunday, avoided the media spotlight on Monday, taking refuge in the club's complex overlooking the Red Hill training field.
The Broncos responded to inquiries about their skipper's health by issuing a brief statement saying his right knee was "stable" and there were no signs suggesting his surgery had not been successful.
"Lockyer has decided to continue to have treatment, reduce his workload and undertake an elective arthroscopy sometime in the next 10 days," the statement said.
"His return to full activity is still at this stage unclear."
Morris said Queensland was fortunate to have "a number of options" should Lockyer be unavailable for Origin 1.
"Had this happened three or four years ago we'd be scratching our heads for answers," said Morris.
Prince has also offered to play five-eighth if selectors don't want to shift Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston from No.7.
"If we opted on Thurston and Prince in the halves it would be up to Mal and the coaching staff where they played," said Morris.
Moving Inglis to five-eighth could help selectors fit both Karmichael Hunt and Billy Slater, who makes his debut for Australia this week, into their 17 man squad.