Queensland selector and Maroons legend Darren Lockyer says Cameron Munster and Harry Grant “should be playing” in the State of Origin opener next Wednesday as they race the clock against injury.
Munster was on Monday named in the Maroons squad for the June 9 Townsville clash, despite having missed Melbourne’s past three NRL games with a foot injury.
Grant was also picked having made just five appearances this season. He has been sidelined since Magic Round with a groin injury.
Lockyer explained Queensland’s 20-man extended squad was picked precisely to accommodate for a host of uncertain scenarios, but come June 9 there’ll be no doubts over Munster and Grant’s place in the line-up.
“It’s not ideal, but the reason we picked 20 players is we knew we had suspension issues, we knew we had injury issues. So, we’ve got Plan B in place if Plan A doesn’t come off,” Lockyer told Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.
“Kalyn is done, which is unfortunate. But we had a backup plan there. In regard to Kaufusi coming through, that’s a box ticked.
“It’s just now about giving guys like Grant and Munster a little bit of time. But from what I’m hearing, they’re going well. So, they should be playing.”
Queensland icon Wally Lewis assured a niggling injury wouldn’t be enough to keep Munster from taking to the field, with his confidence and presence alone enough to carry the Maroons to victory.
“He’s probably the only one that knows if he is a realistic chance of playing in the game,” Lewis told QLDER.
“But he’s one of those players that I think wouldn’t have to play for three or four weeks in the build up to the game.
“You could rely on putting him in the field. He plays with enormous confidence. He loves to dictate…It’s his instinct on the field which is similar to the great players like Locky, JT, they all had it.
“There may be disappointment about not seeing him on the training paddock and fear of him not being out there. But ask him if he wants to play, even if he’s not totally fit the day before the game and he’ll tell you ‘Yes’ seven days a week.”
Lockyer added: “When you haven’t played for a while or you play with a niggling injury, it comes down to self-confidence. He doesn’t lack that one bit. I don’t think it’d bother him at all.”
Despite Grant’s lack of minutes this year, Lockyer revealed the hooker had been maintaining his cardiovascular fitness and would have no problem stringing an 80-minute performance in Townsville, which goes some way to explain why Reed Mahoney looks set to miss out on the game-day squad.
“By all reports, Harry’s fitness, in terms of his cardio, is extraordinary. So, I think playing 80-minutes will not be an issue. He’s young,” Lockyer said.
“It is different to coming back and playing 80 for the Storm than it is to play 80 at Origin level.
“But from all of the good judges that know Harry, they’re confident that, if he’s fit physically, he’ll be able to do 80 at Origin. Whether he does, that remains to be seen.”
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