Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk has revealed he vowed to himself to make it back from a broken arm for State of Origin III.
Mal Meninga wants Queensland to take a leaf out of Cooper Cronk’s book after stressing the Maroons must cope better with adversity to prevent a State of Origin clean sweep.
Cronk was Tuesday named to make a near-miracle comeback in Wednesday week’s dead rubber, just six weeks after breaking his forearm in the series opener.
The Melbourne halfback revealed he vowed at fulltime to make it back for game three, and has since left no stone unturned to play at Suncorp Stadium.
“I just said I would do everything possible to get ready,” Cronk said.
“I did everything in my power and in my capacity to do that and here I am with the help of other people.”
Five days after Craig Bellamy rubbished suggestions his Storm playmaker would be fit, the Melbourne coach admitted he’d been using “potions and lotions” and altering his diet to ensure his fracture would knit.
Cronk, who will wear a cast, declined to detail the degree of his radical measures.
But he also admitted there were more boxes to tick in his preparations to ensure he’ll be ready to aim up against a NSW outfit set to target him, despite no game time in six weeks.
“I can’t tell you that everything is going to be fine,” Cronk said. “I know I’m going to find it tough at some stage, it’s been five weeks.
“I will do everything possible this week to make sure I have my mind and body ready to combat it on Wednesday night.”
Queensland coach Meninga has no fears about his “ultimate professional” playmaker, who was sorely missed for the last 70 minutes of game one plus all of game two.
Meninga predicted they would be a more cohesive unit for game three with Cronk back and all troops training after a number were rested for preparations to the two preceding losses.
But what he mostly wanted was his team to roll with the punches better, like losing the No.7 in game one and Matt Scott (cheekbone) and Brent Tate (knee) in the 6-4 game two loss.
“We haven’t been able to handle that adversity when we have been confronted with it,” Meninga said. “In the past we have been able to handle it but NSW are playing a lot better than they were seven, six, five years ago.”
Cronk’s return has seen Daly Cherry-Evans relegated to the bench, while Jacob Lillyman will take Scott’s place in the front-row.
The selectors declined to add a new prop, with in-form Bronco Josh McGuire named 18th man, but Meninga said the return of Corey Parker (eye socket) adds to the stocks in the middle.
Parker returns to the back-row with Chris McQueen (ankle) ruled out, while Will Chambers will make his debut on the wing after replacing Tate.