Andrew Fifita is set to return from injury ahead of State of Origin two, putting pressure on the NSW pack to aim up in game one at Suncorp Stadium.
NSW forwards will be playing for their positions in Wednesday night’s State of Origin, with barnstorming prop Andrew Fifita ready to make an earlier than expected return from injury.
Greg Bird will also be available for game two selection, giving the desperate Blues pack even more impetus to throw everything at the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium.
Fifita was in a moon boot and getting around on a custom-made scooter last week after suffering a high ankle sprain in round nine, but at Monday night’s NRL clash with South Sydney at Remondis Stadium, the Test forward warmed up with teammates before the match.
Andrew Johns said in commentary for Triple M that Fifita was even pushing to play this weekend.
The Sharks have the bye next week, but coach Peter Sharp says Fifita is set to make a miraculous return the following week against St George Illawarra in round 13 – which would give him one chance to push for selection in Origin II.
“He’s been remarkable with his healing and he is a chance,” Sharp said.
It’s a major boost for Laurie Daley’s Blues and also the battling Sharks, given Fifita was meant to miss at least six weeks and be unavailable for the return clash against the Maroons in Sydney on June 18.
“We had a chat and he said it’s not feeling too bad, just improved every day so hopefully he’s not too far away because we need him back on deck,” said Sharks interim skipper, Wade Graham.
Fifita’s return to the Origin frame coincides with bruising lock Bird coming back from suspension.
Bird and Fifita would have been automatic selections for game one had they not suffered their last-minute mishaps, and NSW coach Daley is expected to closely consider bringing them back even if the Blues did come away from Brisbane with an upset victory.
Front rowers James Tamou and Aaron Woods and bench forward Trent Merrin will be put under pressure by Fifita, while proven Origin performer Bird would be hard to keep out of a second row or interchange role.
Sydney Roosters lock Boyd Cordner also suffered a high ankle sprain on the eve of the game one teams being announced, but at this stage is expected to miss Origin two as well.