Papalii poised for Origin recall
Maroons hopeful Josh Papalii's gamble to return early from an ankle injury is certain to pay off, with South Sydney second-rower Chris McQueen likely to miss Origin III with an ankle problem.
McQueen came off in the second half of South Sydney's 20-18 defeat in Townsville, paving the way for a straight swap with the Raiders enforcer when Queensland coach Mal Meninga names his team on Monday.
Papalii came through unscathed after making a shock return for Canberra in their heartbreaking 19-18 loss to the Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
"I pulled up good. The ankle actually didn't faze me at all – it felt really strong," Papalii told NRL.com.
"I sat at home for two weeks straight just on the ice machine. I try to be as professional as possible. I've never been this professional before.
"I came back, ran early and felt real strong. We took a bit of a gamble to come back this week, but it felt good out there."
The 22-year-old came off the bench to carry the ball for 106 metres, including one trademark run that left Tigers halfback Luke Brooks eating dirt and set up teammate Brenko Lee for his first career try.
"I just wanted to make all my carries nice and strong and try to be a help to the boys," he said. "I guess we had a good start, we defended well. But they broke us once, then twice. We come back in the second half, we were 18-all for a bit. But then we just let it slip by crucial errors and just a few mistakes in our own end. We've just got to bounce back with our next game."
Disheartened by having to watch Queensland's Origin loss from home, followed by Canberra's defeat to the Bulldogs a fortnight ago, Papalii was determined to return early.
"Watching the boys on Friday night lose to the Doggies, it really hurt my heart. I care about these boys a lot," he said.
"I just wanted to come back and be a help to the boys. I guess everyone wants to play for Queensland too, but my goal was to come back tonight and I accomplished that goal. Now we've got to look at the Titans now and my focus is on that."
Papalii appeared in Queensland's Game I loss in Brisbane, making just 25 metres and 23 tackles in limited minutes.