Billy Slater is one of several Queensland stars battling to be fit for State of Origin II. Credit: Col Whelan Copyright: NRL Photos
If the Longreach Thomson Tigers had challenged Queensland to a game when they flew into town the Maroons would not have had enough numbers to field a team, but Will Chambers insist the disrupted build-up won't affect their preparations for Game Two next Wednesday.
Having originally named a 22-man squad to cover a host of injury concerns, the Maroons were forced to scratch Josh Papalii before the Monday night clash between the Raiders and Broncos had even finished and only 11 players made the trip to Longreach on Tuesday.
Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Daly Cherry-Evans were all left behind in Brisbane to tend to their respective injuries while the players involved in Monday night football – Justin Hodges, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford – weren't able to make the flight out of Brisbane in time.
They will all reconvene at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast on Wednesday with Queensland coach Mal Meninga to cobble together a 17 that can run through the training sessions as the injured stars fight their battles with the clock.
Chambers spent the week in camp for Game One as cover for Hodges and is the favourite to come into the centres should either Inglis or Slater be ruled out. Cherry-Evans ran everywhere bar halfback ahead of the series opener but Chambers insists those called into the squad as cover will be ready if needed.
"You just prepare as though you're going to play and if you do get the nod to play it's all good. If not, then so be it, there's always next time," said Chambers, who is still awaiting his Origin debut.
"It's something that you'd love to do, to play Origin, but we'll just have to see how it all pans out.
"Obviously there are a few boys in doubt but you wish them full health and I'll just wait to get my opportunity at some stage and take it whenever it comes with both hands."
Chris McQueen retained his position in the squad and remains confident that those players in doubt will take their place in the team as he lapped up the enthusiasm of the residents of Longreach and the surrounding towns.
"We only got into camp last night and this is our first official duty so we haven't really talked about the injuries or the game or anything just yet," McQueen told NRL.com.
"We'll do that over the coming days and the next week to get that sorted out and hopefully most of the boys are sweet and ready to go.
"We've got it great in the big city, we've got everything we need and we're pretty looked after so to come out here and see the country towns and the people out here, it does make us realise what we've got.
"We pretty much spend all our time in the cities so we don't really see the support and the love that we've got throughout the whole state so to get out to a smaller town and see that it's not just the big cities that love their footy, it is the whole state.
"I've never been this far west so I wasn't sure how many people would turn out today but obviously we've had a massive turnout and it's outstanding to see.
"Kids from schools everywhere so to be able to put some smiles on people's faces is obviously a great experience for us."