The odds of Warriors sensation Reece Walsh debuting for the Maroons are set to firm if AJ Brimson is ruled out of Gold Coast's match against Manly on Sunday, while Cronulla's Will Chambers and North Queensland's Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow could be playing off for a centre spot on Friday night.
Queensland coach Paul Green is yet to discuss changes for Origin II with selectors Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater and Gene Miles but he said after last Wednesday night's 50-6 thrashing by NSW that the Maroons would be unlikely to again choose players under an injury cloud.
Brimson carried a knee injury into the Origin series opener and has been named in jersey No.21 for Gold Coast's match against the Sea Eagles on Sunday after missing last Saturday's 35-34 loss to Sydney Roosters.
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If Brimson doesn't play, 18-year-old Walsh is likely to come under strong consideration for the bench utility role after just seven NRL matches since joining the Warriors from the Broncos mid-season.
Star fullback Kalyn Ponga, who was initially chosen in the Maroons No.1 jersey before being ruled out with a groin injury, has been named to make his return against the Warriors on Saturday and is expected to regain his spot in the Queensland team if he gets through the match unscathed.
Ponga's selection would enable Valentine Holmes to revert to the wing, where he was initially chosen for Origin I in Townsville, with his Cowboys team-mate Kyle Feldt or Brisbane's Xavier Coates to make way.
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Penrith's Kurt Capewell is also expected to shift from the centres to the interchange for Origin II as the Maroons look for a way to limit the damage caused by Tom Trbojevic and Chambers, Tabuai-Fidow or Parramatta's Tom Opacic are among the options likely to be considered.
It is believed that Opacic had been in contention for Origin I but the Maroons selectors were concerned that South Sydney's Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston scored three tries each on the edge where he and Blake Ferguson were defending on the weekend before the team was named.
Chambers has only been back in the NRL for six weeks after a stint in Japanese rugby union, but the former Melbourne Storm star is an experienced campaigner who has played 13 Origins and is renowned for his defence and ability to get under the skin of opponents.
Tabuai-Fidow is one of the fastest players in the NRL and was moved this season from the wing to centre by new Cowboys coach Todd Payten, who backed the 19-year-old to handle the step up to Origin.
"I'd love to see the kid play in Origin. I think he's super talented," Payten said on Tuesday.
"We've seen over a long period of time when players are thrown into that Origin arena, particularly for Queensland, that they rise.
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"There's some questions around Hammer's inexperience as a centre, has he got the body for the physicality of Origin … but I know that if he's given an opportunity, he'll rise and he's super talented.
"Fingers crossed for the kid, he needs a good performance this week and that'll help him."
Sharks interim coach Josh Hannay also backed Chambers to do the job for Queensland after last Friday night's 19-18 defeat of Penrith, but the 33-year-old talked down his selection prospects.
"It is very flattering, considering I have been out of the game for so long. But at the end of the day I have got to just keep playing good footy for Cronulla," said Chambers, who joined the Sharks in April on a one-year deal.
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"Like any Queenslander I'd love to play for them, but I have just got to worry about playing good footy here first. If it comes, it comes and if it doesn't, it doesn't.
"The game has changed a lot since I played it last and I sort of struggled early but I am starting to find my feet.
"I have just been excited to be playing rugby league again. I left and thought the grass was greener, but I always find myself coming back. I've left a few times now and I always come back to where my heart lays.
"I don't know what my future holds but if I can turn up and play good footy week to week for Cronulla it will all take care of itself."
Warriors coach Nathan Brown believes Walsh will be an Origin star down the track but after Sunday's loss to the Storm, he warned it would be too soon to throw him into the interstate arena.
"It's not in anyone's best interests to put an 18-year-old kid in State of Origin that's played five games of footy in the NRL and didn't play last year because of [the] COVID [pandemic]," he said.
"I won't make that decision.
"He might go out there and play well – I'm not saying he wouldn't play well – but it's certainly not in anyone's best interests to have Reece at 18 in State of Origin, I don't believe."
Origin II in Brisbane is sold out but tickets are still on sale for game three at Stadium Australia in Sydney on July 14 - get your tickets at NRL.com/tickets