Blues hooker Robbie Farah is ready to assume the captaincy for next week’s State of Origin series decider if skipper Paul Gallen joins NSW’s most experienced player, Jarryd Hayne, on the sideline with injury.
With Hayne replaced by James McManus after scans on his injured hamstring showed he would not recover in time for Origin III, attention has now turned to the fitness of Gallen (foot) and lock Greg Bird (ankle).
Both Gallen and Bird were in moon boots when they arrived at the Blues’ Coogee hotel on Monday afternoon, and have until Friday to run at training or be replaced by standby players Aaron Woods and Boyd Cordner.
If the pair are ruled out, NSW will have lost their three most experienced players from the side named on Sunday as Hayne (17), Gallen (16) and Bird (13) have played 46 Origins between them.
After receiving the results of a scan on Bird’s left ankle, NSW doctor Nathan Gibbs predicted the Test back-rower would be fit to play on Wednesday week but he was not as confident about Gallen’s prospects.
”I would say Greg is a 90 per cent chance of playing and ‘Gal’ is probably 50-50,” Gibbs said. ”It would be a good effort for anyone to play three weeks after sustaining the injury he did in Origin II.”
The initial diagnosis was that it would take Gallen three to five weeks to recover from a partial tear of the plantar fascia tissue in the arch of his right foot but Blues coach Laurie Daley wants him and Bird to take part in training on Friday.
If they get through that session, Daley will see how they recover on Saturday and make a final decision by Sunday.
Should Gallen be ruled out, Woods would come into the side and start at prop, while Farah would take over the captaincy.
It is a role Farah would accept with mixed emotions but, if Gallen is sidelined, the Wests Tigers skipper said he was ready to lead the Blues to their first series win since 2005.
”If it came to that, I have to be ready and I will be ready,” Farah said. ”Those guys are all very experienced players, so they know how to prepare with an injury, and I am sure they will be fine if they are right to play and they will know if they are not.”
Daley said losing Hayne was a blow but the medical report on Bird was a ”positive sign”.
Gibbs said the scan had detected only a minor tear to Bird’s medial ligament.
”There is a lot of swelling and bruising but he is a good chance of playing,” Gibbs said.
There were reports on Monday night that Hayne would now be sidelined for a further four weeks with Parramatta.
McManus joined the Blues camp on Monday afternoon, and said he had unfinished business in the Origin arena after previously representing NSW in 2009.
Only three players – Farah, Michael Jennings and Luke Lewis – remain from that match, the opening game of the 2009 series, with McManus’ selection ending his one-game wonder tag.
”To get selected again is great,” McManus said. ”It’s a monkey off my back and something I wanted to do again.”
He has watched the opening two games of this series and expects to be challenged by Queensland’s left edge of Greg Inglis and Sam Thaiday, in the same way Nathan Merritt was singled out in game two.
”I can’t imagine it’s going to be any different,” said McManus, 27. ”With all the ball they had in game two, they’ll put points on any team.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.