Queensland are confident Dane Gagai will overcome a bout of tonsillitis and again star for the Maroons in Wednesday’s series opener in Townsville.
Queensland Origin history is filled with heroic stories of players conquering injury concerns, sickness or even trips to hospital to lead the Maroons to victory. Now the stage is set for Gagai.
Gagai has missed Queensland’s two biggest on-field sessions, sitting out training on Friday and again on Sunday as he battles an infection that’s left him bed-ridden and isolated from teammates.
Maroons bench forward Jaydn Su’A has trained in the centres during Gagai’s absence but expects his South Sydney teammate to be ready to fire against a deadly NSW centre combination of Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell.
"I called him this morning just because we had the day off yesterday and I didn’t see him and I heard he was unwell and gave him a call and he is sweet, he will be alright," Su’A said.
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"I think he just wants a story, everyone knows what he brings to the Origin arena so that will just add more to the story.
"I honestly believe I can’t remember the last time he had a bad club game. Everyone knows what he does in Origin but his club form has been just as good.
"You’re right come Origin time. That Origin jersey seems to do wonders for him so I’m very excited to get that chance to play with him again."
Kurt Capewell revealed he had been training on both edges during Queensland’s closed sessions as coach Paul Green continues to keep his team a closely guarded secret from NSW.
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However, Capewell knows he has a tough assignment marking either Mitchell or Trbojevic.
"They’re great players and they will be hard to handle for sure," Capewell said.
"[Trbojevic] is definitely never easy to contain. He is a terrific player and I don’t think it matters what position he plays he is pretty good."
Su’A has also done his homework on the Blues centres, knowing that at some stage he will need to defend on an edge.
Given the red-hot form of Trbojevic at club level for Manly, the Maroons are happier to see him on one edge rather than roaming both sides of the field at fullback.
"I think he is playing centre, that helps as well. We’ve got Capewell and Gags to stop him there and they will do a good job," Su’A said.
"He doesn’t touch the ball as much [at centre] so that helps but he is a threat anywhere on the field but we’ve boys more than capable of doing the job
“Since he has been back [from injury] he has been incredible, you can’t slow guys like that down and you’ve just got to take away their time.”
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