Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
Sam Thaiday's Origin prospects are looking bleaker by the day with Broncos coach Anthony Griffin considering his star back-rower "doubtful" for the Suncorp Stadium opener in 13 days time.
The Maroons' enforcer has been sidelined for the past month after sustaining a slight tear to his calf muscle at training prior to the clash against Newcastle in Round 7.
The initial diagnosis was positive for the 28-year-old and he was only expected to miss one or two weeks, however the injury is healing slower than expected, restricting the Test and Origin star's ability to run and train properly.
Thaiday's name is amongst a host of key players that have been scratched on the eve of the crucial local derby between the Broncos and Titans.
Kevin Gordon (knee) and Albert Kelly (hamstring) will join Greg Bird (suspension) and Ashley Harrison (concussion) on the sideline after they failed to train at Titans' headquarters on Thursday morning.
With Thaiday ruled out once again, Griffin has grave doubts whether his star forward will be fit for the State of Origin opener on May 28.
"I'd have to speak to our [medical staff] and Sam about where he's at. Right now it's not about playing football for him at the moment – he can't get through a couple of run-throughs," Griffin said.
"[Origin] is still a couple of weeks away and a lot can change in a couple of weeks. [But] at the moment he'd have to be doubtful.
"Our medical staff have been working on him for the last month. After tomorrow night we'll sit down and have a look at [Origin] with Sam. He's just as frustrated as anyone. He's been wanting to play but hasn't been able to get back on the [training] field."
The likely absence of Thaiday from Origin I opens the door for players like Dave Taylor, Josh McGuire and possibly Ben Hannant to sneak into the Maroons' side which is named on Monday night. Hannant caught the eye of Griffin after an impressive outing for the Ipswich Jets last weekend, earning a recall to take on the Titans.
"I thought he did a really good job. He played 75 minutes and it was a quality performance and what you want to see from someone who has dropped to Queensland Cup. So I was really happy with him," he said.
"It's a credit to him the way he came up with the performance he did for Ipswich and that's why he's back."
Hannant returns on the bench for the Titans clash, with young prop Jarrod Wallace earning a place in the starting side at the expense of big-money recruit Martin Kennedy.
"Jarrod debuted in 2012 so he's been around the traps for a while now. In the last month he's been very good off the bench so we've rewarded him with a start this week," Griffin added.
"I've spoken to Marty [Kennedy] about where he needs to improve and clearly he's not in the best form he can be in and he understands that as well. So he needs to go and find that form in the Queensland Cup."
Meanwhile, Griffin believes that the Titans' injury worries could work in their favour with the Gold Coast's fringe players looking to impress coach John Cartwright.
"They're a great side the Titans and every [team] goes through periods where you lose key forwards," he said.
"I don't think that's going to affect them at all, it'll probably inspire them more than anything to lift for their coach.
"It's going to be a tough game of football. That night down [at Robina in Round 6] there was nothing in it.
"It was a real tough game of football between two sides playing a derby against each other and it'll be the same [on Friday] night."