Graham charge a distraction NSW don't need
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has labelled Wade Graham's potential one-game suspension as a distraction the Blues don't need ahead of their must-win State of Origin II clash with Queensland next Wednesday.
Graham will either have to accept a one-match ban for a grade one careless high shot on Johnathan Thurston or head to the judiciary and fight the charge, after previously being named to make his Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium in place of the injured Boyd Cordner.
The nature of the charge usually wouldn't warrant a suspension but with 33 carryover points to his name and 50 per cent loading from a similar charge last year – coincidentally against the Cowboys again in the Sharks' semi-final loss in Townsville – Graham is now set be unavailable for his next match.
Daley said he hadn't contacted any potential replacements if Graham was to miss out on his maiden Origin game.
"We will deal with it," Daley said on Monday morning. "He's been waiting a long time for his Origin debut so it would disappointing if he loses his opportunity to play.
"It's a distraction that we don't need.
"Wade brings something a little bit different to the team. While we're disappointed to lose Boyd – and Boyd was our best player in Game One – it gives us an opportunity to use Wade.
"He plays left side, it's important too that he plays club football with Jimmy Maloney. So there's a good combination there straight away if he does play so that's the main thing for me."
Graham's selection had been the only change to the NSW line-up that lost State of Origin I 6-4 a fortnight ago.
Jack Bird and Bryce Cartwright were included in the Origin II squad as development players but most likely won't be used even if Graham is suspended.
When asked about the lack of changes, Daley said continuity was key for his squad.
"Coming into this camp, we realised we were going to have one less day of preparation because of the games [on Monday night]. We knew we would have eight players playing too," Daley said.
"With one day less of prep, that's really crucial in an Origin campaign, so that's why it's important for us to have the same group of players there. With us going into Game Two with that, having new players wouldn't have been an advantage for us.
"Having the same group, and given that they trained together for Game One, because we will have limited sessions this time and it'll be mainly about recovery, I think [naming the same players] was a no-brainer."
Daley did however sympathise with Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco and Raiders centre Joey Leilua who missed call-ups despite strong form this season.
"[Tedesco's] a good player," Daley said. "He's a really good player but having that spine off the back of four sessions is important for our continuity.
"[Leilua's] another one who is playing really good football at the moment but unfortunately we couldn't find a spot for him."