Parramatta centre Will Hopoate is set for a return to Origin after three years away after NSW suffered a series of injuries in the interstate opener.
Will Hopoate is set to make a stunning return to the State of Origin arena for game two of the interstate series with NSW coach Laurie Daley forced to reshuffle his successful side due to a swag of injuries.
Three years after making his Blues debut Hopoate, who was a reserve for NSW’s 12-8 win in Brisbane on Wednesday, will likely replace Josh Morris for game two in Sydney on June 18, with the Canterbury centre struck down by a knee injury.
Morris and Anthony Watmough (bicep) are the key injury worries for Daley, as the Blues seek to break Queensland’s eight-year stranglehold on the interstate series.
Paul Gallen (neck) Brett Morris (shoulder), also suffered injuries in a torrid series opener but are likely to be back on deck in three weeks time.
Easing Daley’s concerns is the return of Greg Bird, who will be available for the return match after serving a two-game suspension.
But Hopoate’s return is set to be the big talking point, after the Parramatta’s centre impressive comeback in the NRL this season after two years out on a Mormon mission.
With no access to newspapers or the internet, Hopoate was oblivious to the Blues’ continuing Origin heartache over the past two seasons.
But the Manly premiership winner showed in his only Origin outing in Game II in 2011, when he scored a decisive try in NSW’s win, he can cut it at that level.
Morris suffered a suspected posterior cruciate ligament tear and will know the extent of scans on Friday.
“I’ve done my PCL, I’ve done it in my right knee before and that felt a lot worse than what this was so hopefully we can get some good news on that,” he said.
His twin Brett played the entire match despite suffering a partial shoulder dislocation when scoring a first half try and said he was confident he would be fit for the game in less than three weeks.
“It was pretty sore, I just got it moving again, the staff talked me through it and I did what I had to do,” Morris said.
“I just didn’t want to let the team down, there weren’t many troops left on the bench.
“I think I will be there for Origin II, the belief is there, I just have to get the body right.”
Gallen was inspirational in making a game-high 22 runs and 33 tackles and said he was hopeful he would miss just two weeks.
“I wouldn’t think I’ll miss Origin (II),” he said.
“There is just an intense burning pain for about a minute and then it goes away. It is a bit of a worry but I’ll get it checked out and hopefully I will be right.”