Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk’s early return from an arm injury is likely to unseat the in-form Daly Cherry-Evans from Queensland’s starting team.
Cooper Cronk is set to make a surprise return for State of Origin III, a move likely to shift Daly Cherry-Evans back to the Queensland bench.
Cronk suffered an arm injury early in NSW’s win in game one in late May and hasn’t played since.
Cherry-Evans bravely overcame a knee injury to take the field for the Maroons in their game-two loss which sealed the Blues’ first series win since 2005.
But in a number of changes to the Maroons side for this year’s final Origin fixture at Suncorp Stadium on July 9, the return of Cooper is set to oust Cherry-Evans from the starting side and onto the interchange bench – a role he filled with success last year.
Melbourne’s Will Chambers is the frontrunner to fill Brent Tate’s wing spot after the North Queensland three-quarter suffered a season-ending knee injury at ANZ Stadium.
Manly’s Brenton Lawrence could come in for injured prop Matt Scott (cheek), with Sam Thaiday moving to the front row another possibility.
South Sydney back-rower Chris McQueen is also out of the dead rubber, with Canberra’s Josh Papalii a possible replacement following a solid effort in Canberra’s loss to Wests Tigers on Saturday after an early return from an ankle injury.
Brisbane pair duo Matt Gillett (shoulder) and Corey Parker (eye socket) are also likely to be fit after missing game two.
With Ben Te’o rumoured to be joining English rugby next season, he could miss out.
Cherry-Evans helped steer Manly to a tough win over premiers the Sydney Roosters on Friday night but ahead of the naming of the Maroons team by coach Mal Meninga on Tuesday, the Manly playmaker said he expected to make way for Cronk.
“If Cooper is back I have no doubt he will slide straight back into the No.7 for Queensland,” Cherry-Evans said.
“I will go back to the bench and it will be business as usual for Queensland.
“It honestly doesn’t bother me, I’m only 25 years old, I have been fortunate enough to have been involved with a number of Queensland sides already.
“My time to represent Queensland in the No.7 will hopefully come later down the track but I am in no rush at the moment to put a stranglehold on that jersey.”
Possible Queensland team: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Will Chambers, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Sam Thaiday, Cameron Smith (capt), Nate Myles, Aidan Guerra, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Bench: Daly Cherry-Evans, Jacob Lillyman, Josh Papalii, Dave Taylor.