Brisbane have ruled out centre Justin Hodges while Manly will be without Anthony Watmough in their NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Anthony Watmough’s bold attempt to play through the pain barrier has bitten the dust with Manly losing a second State of Origin star for Sunday’s NRL clash with Brisbane.
Watmough trained with his torn biceps at the Sea Eagles captain’s run on Saturday morning but in the end failed to make the flight to Brisbane.
The NSW back-rower joins Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) on the sidelines following Wednesday night’s brutal Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium.
“We were hoping he was going to be right but it was just a little bit too painful this morning so he won’t come with us,” Manly coach Geoff Toovey said. “But we’re pretty confident he’ll be right for next week.”
The Broncos have suffered their own blow with Queensland centre Justin Hodges ruled out due to fears about aggravating his ankle problem.
Hodges played out the Maroons’ 12-8 loss but his injury history prompted coach Anthony Griffin to take a cautious approach.
“He’s just come back half a dozen weeks ago from a major injury and he’s carrying a minor injury at the moment so we just have to be smart with the way we manage him,” Griffin said.
However, Corey Parker and Matt Gillett will definitely back up after Origin I, joining the returning Sam Thaiday in a full-strength Broncos pack.
Griffin admitted the pair wouldn’t have played if the game was scheduled in Brisbane’s regular Friday night timeslot.
Dale Copley moves into the centres for Brisbane while the newly re-signed Lachlan Maranta has been promoted to start on the wing.
Manly’s double blow has been cancelled out by the timely returns of backline stars Jamie Lyon and Kieran Foran.
Kiwi five-eighth Foran will partner Jack Littlejohn in the halves, while Tom Symonds will take Watmough’s place in the second row.
With a Blues wing spot available following Brett Morris’s shoulder injury, Toovey tipped Jorge Taufua would put forward a compelling case for a call-up.
“Jorge has been playing well all year, had a sensational season last year and hasn’t struck full form yet coming back from injury,” Toovey said. “But I think you will see the best of him this weekend.”
Griffin was less enthusiastic about Ben Hunt’s claims on the Queensland No.7 jersey with Cooper Cronk (broken arm) ruled out and Cherry-Evans in doubt for Origin II.
“He’s only really started playing halfback at the NRL level,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to put that expectation on him at the moment.”