Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis hasn't played Origin since Game II in 2011. Copyright: NRL Photos/Grant Trouville. Credit: NRL Photos/Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos/Grant Trouville.
There are exactly 36 days left until NSW coach Laurie Daley names his team for Game I of this year's State of Origin series.
The Blues will be aiming to finally bring an end to Queensland's eight-year reign in the Origin arena, but Daley already has a number of headaches surrounding a number of key positions.
Skipper Paul Gallen has not played for the Sharks since Round 1, while incumbent five-eighth James Maloney has looked a shadow of the player that helped the Roosters to the premiership last October.
However, the latest – and probably the most significant – dilemma for Daley surrounds the health of key figure Robbie Farah, who was arguably the hottest player in the League before he dislocated his elbow in the 78th minute of last week's win over the Cowboys.
While the Tigers rake has avoided surgery, the club's medical staff have estimated he will spend 4-6 week on the sidelines, meaning Farah's best case scenario has him recovered for Game I on May 28, although he won't have played a game for five weeks.
Former NSW hooker Michael Ennis and boom Eels no. 9 Nathan Peats have already been thrown up as replacements. Ennis, 30, played seven games for NSW between 2009-11 before Farah established his spot in the team.
"I'm sure 'Grub' [Josh Reynolds] will be into him in the coming weeks. There is an opportunity there for someone to put their hand up and I think Mick's going really well," says NSW centre and Ennis' clubmate Josh Morris.
"He's played Origin numerous times so he wouldn't look out of place. I suppose it gives Mick extra incentive to put his best foot forward the next few weeks."
Farah's injury has changed the Origin landscape for NSW and as a consequence, Peats was shielded from the media this week, leaving his teammates to spruik his chances of what would be a stunning rise for the former South Sydney back-up.
"He'd probably relish being in that kind of arena. He's a tough player, he plays 80 minutes, and he's probably one of the form hookers in the competition at the moment. I guess that's up the selectors, but I don't think he'd let anyone down," said teammate Darcy Lussick.
Morris himself could be left on the outer with Daley to decide whether to select game-winner Jarryd Hayne in the centres, a position he excelled in during Australia's World Cup win late last year, and where he is likely to be named by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens for the mid-year Test match at Allianz Stadium on May 2.
"I haven't had a chat to Laurie or anything like that, but he did a wonderful job in the centres in the World Cup. That's definitely got to be taken into consideration," Morris said.
"I suppose it's up to Jarryd where he wants to play. He's certainly one of the first ones picked every year and when Origin time comes around, stands up for us."