Sunday looms as Thurston's D-day
He has been told that he has until kick-off to prove his fitness but champion Maroons five-eighth Johnathan Thurston is likely to use Sunday's training session to test whether his shoulder can stand up to the rigors of State of Origin.
Prior to the Queensland team shifting base from Brisbane to the Gold Coast on Wednesday Thurston fronted the media to outline the likelihood of being able to play a 37th consecutive game for his state, the work required to get the all-clear and why Anthony Milford will be better for the experience even if he doesn't play.
'Injury clouds' have a tendency of descending on Queensland State of Origin camps at this time of year and whether Thurston is absolutely no chance of playing, a certainty to take the field or something in between will be a point of conjecture until a final decision is made.
Just on the other side of the border at Kingscliff the man who is awaiting confirmation of his opposite number, Blues five-eighth James Maloney, is convinced Thurston will be there next Wednesday night but the Cowboys playmaker insists that he won't play unless his shoulder is 100 per cent, the risk of a season-ending injury looming large in his mind.
"The risk is that I tear it completely and that's season," Thurston said of the risks associated with playing, revealing that he and North Queensland coach Paul Green had a lengthy discussion prior to coming into camp.
"It's a big decision to make obviously. There's still a lot of football to be played this year and hopefully I'll be right to go Wednesday but in my own head if I'm not right to go then I've got full faith in 'Milf' (Milford) doing the job for us.
"They said it was a 4-6 week injury so Wednesday night will be around four weeks but I've still got a lot of work to get through. If I can get through that and I'm 100 per cent confident that I'll get through the game then I'll play.
"If my shoulder is 85-90 per cent then I can't risk that."
As 18th man Maloney was Thurston's shadow ahead of the Test against the Kiwis last month where the injury occurred eight minutes from full-time and having seen him overcome a calf injury to play for the Kangaroos, the Sharks pivot is expecting another miracle recovery.
"I reckon he's a big chance of playing," Maloney said from the Blues camp.
"I don't buy into the fact he won't play, he's got a tendency to always be right to come back for games like that.
"The Aussie game a couple of weeks ago he wasn't going to play, all the talk, and he was right to go.
"He's made it clear it's his last series so I dare say he doesn't want to miss it and he'll be doing everything he can to be back and I reckon he'll be there."
Thurston is currently undergoing two sessions a day with the Queensland physiotherapist in order to loosen the muscles around the shoulder joint and outside of that trying to slowly get strength back into it.
Still in some discomfort, Thurston will participate in the skills part of training on Thursday but won't test it with any contact work until Sunday at the earliest.
"Obviously tackling's a big part of the game so I need to be able to do that. I can't hide behind the line in the second line of defence," Thurston said.
"Sunday we'll lock in for some contact maybe if it's feeling good.
"I've got to get rid of the pain that's there still and the surgeon that did my recos (shoulder reconstructions) said that that should be starting to go now.
"My shoulder's getting better every day and if it's 100 per cent come game day then I'll play but if it's 80 per cent then I can't risk it and I can't do that to the team."
And if he does recover in time to play and take Milford's place, Thurston is adamant that the 22-year-old Broncos No.6 is better served being in camp with the Queensland team than in New Zealand lining up against the Warriors on Saturday.
"If I was his age and had the opportunity of training, spending a full week with the calibre of players in this team, I'd be licking my lips," Thurston said.
"It's a wonderful environment to learn and to better yourself. You walk away after being in this environment thinking you're bullet-proof and you want to be better than what you were when you came in here.
"That's what this camp will do. Whether he plays or not his game will go to a new level just by being here this week."