Queensland’s injury woes won’t lead to panic and coach Mal Meninga is confident the team will prepare well for State of Origin II next week.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga says there’s no panic in his camp despite the Maroons’ injury woes.
Needing a win against NSW in Sydney on June 18 to avoid an end to their remarkable sequence of State of Origin series wins, Queensland named a 22-man squad on Monday night.
Within an hour that had been cut back to 21 men when Canberra’s Josh Papalii was ruled out after suffering an ankle injury during the Raiders’ loss to Brisbane.
Doubts remain over Greg Inglis (ankle), Billy Slater (shoulder) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) with all three staying at the Maroons camp on the Gold Coast while 11 players headed to outback town Longreach for a fan day.
Meninga says he has no concrete timeframe for when Inglis, Slater and Cherry-Evans must be cleared to play in Origin II, giving the trio until the last minute to prove their fitness.
“There’s no panic at all. We’ll go through the week. These guys are used to this on a week-to-week basis,” Meninga said.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll be up to the challenge and our preparation will be spot on.
“We’ll go down there and do a good job regardless of who plays.”
With halfback Cooper Cronk already ruled out due to a broken arm suffered in the opening match of the series, the Maroons added six players to those who took part in the opener in Brisbane.
Forward Sam Thaiday is back after missing game one with a calf injury while possible debutants Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and Will Chambers are among those waiting in the wings if any of the injured stars are ruled out.
Meninga says he has full faith in all of the players named, particularly given Chambers and Milford have been in the Queensland setup before – either as 18th man or as part of the Maroons emerging squad.
“All the players are playing first grade and all of them are playing pretty well at their individual clubs,” he said.
“There’s a bit of turmoil in regards to the quandaries over injuries but rest assured that by the end of the week we’ll be fine and we’ll do the right thing by Queensland.”
Queensland veteran Brent Tate said the long trip to the drought-stricken community of Longreach in the state’s centre had been a good way to put the Maroons’ woes into perspective.
The 32-year-old believes despite the less-than-perfect squad announcement, the team will come together over the week.
“It’s probably not ideal but you just deal with it mate,” Tate told AAP.
“The guys that are under injury concerns, you want to give them to the last minute.
“They’re all experienced guys that have been called into the camp.”