The Blues are trying to win an Origin series for the first time since 2005, and their chances are improving by the day with star half-back Cherry-Evans struggling with a knee injury.
In better news for Mal Meninga’s men, Greg Inglis (ankle) and Billy Slater (shoulder) worked well on Sunday, as they continued their push for selection.
Manly Sea Eagles talent Cherry-Evans could be replaced by Origin debutant Ben Hunt, with the Maroons aiming to keep their attempt at nine series wins in succession alive.
The Blues won game one 12-8, with Jarryd Hayne unstoppable for Laurie Daley’s outfit.
A late exclusion from the series opener in Brisbane was Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday, who returns for Wednesday’s game two in Sydney.
Opposite number Anthony Watmough is carrying a bicep injury into the blockbuster, but had a clear message for title-holders Queensland: “come and get it”.
“There’s no doubt they are going to try and pull at it and bend it and rip it off,” Watmough said.
“We had that last week against the Dogs and we dealt with it then. It’s one of those injuries you can’t really hide it, so you have to go out there and throw it around the best you can.
“You look in Origin, everyone goes up another notch and everyone tries to rip your head off. I expect everyone and anyone to have a crack. Maybe the trainer might run on and have a crack at some stage. I’m not hiding from the fact it’s there.
“Come and get it, it’s there for the taking.”
A bruising Origin I saw each of NSW (Brett Morris) and Queensland (Cooper Cronk) lose some star power, which makes game two all the more intriguing.
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