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Penrith halfback Craig Gower will give his surgically-repaired knee its first real test later today when he runs for the first time since last week's Origin-eve mishap. Gower, who was ruled out the day before Origin one following a training injury, is desperate to play in Sunday's clash against the Manly, with the NSW side for Origin two to be selected on Monday.
If he proves his fitness against the Sea Eagles, Gower will battle with game-one hero Brett Finch for the halfback jumper. Finch also has one more opportunity to press his claims for another run in the sky-blue jersey when his Sydney Roosters travel down to Melbourne to take on the Storm on Saturday night.
NSW coach Graham Murray believes Queensland selectors will stick with Darren Lockyer at five-eighth in the second State of Origin clash. Maroons selectors have been urged by several former Origin greats to shift Lockyer back to fullback to accommodate Wests Tigers halfback Scott Prince in the halves.
But Murray believes the Maroons will bring Lockyer's Brisbane teammate Karmichael Hunt into the side at fullback, with Matt Bowen either dropping to the bench or out of the squad altogether.
Murray also expects Origin veterans Tonie Carroll and Chris Flannery to win a recall for the Maroons to bolster what was an inexperienced back row in the series opener.