DAILY GRIND: Laurie Daley takes his first session as NSW coach yesterday. Picture: Getty Images SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 27: Blues coach Laurie Daley speaks to players during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session at Coogee Oval on May 27, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga promised to give Newcastle winger Darius Boyd every opportunity to play his 15th State of Origin in Sydney early next month but will rush Melbourne’s Justin O’Neill into camp today as his shadow.
Boyd joined the team announcement at Suncorp Stadium last night with his left foot in a moon boot after scans had earlier cleared him of a fractured ankle.
Meninga also confirmed Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans would join the camp as back-up for North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston, whose partner Samantha is due to give birth to their first child on June 5 – the night of the first Origin game in Sydney.
“We’ll give Darius every opportunity to play. He got a badly bruised ankle and hopefully with a lot of treatment early in the week he will be right to play,” Meninga said.
The Queenslanders had their fingers crossed Souths trio Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o and rookie Chris McQueen all pull up healthy after last night’s NRL clash with Cronulla.
Te’o could be a concern after being replaced with a leg injury in the first half.
“There may be a possibility we have to bring others in [to camp] but at this stage we’re keeping our fingers crossed our three guys get through tonight’s game against Cronulla,” said Meninga.
“We’ll check everyone out in the morning and make those decisions if we need to.”
Thurston was keeping details of the birth of his baby private but was confident of continuing his streak of playing in every game of Queensland’s record seven straight series wins since 2006.
Meninga confirmed that Cherry-Evans’s presence was mainly to cover for Thurston if he had to break camp or for some reason miss the game on Wednesday week.
“He’s there to cover JT just in case something does happen,” he said.
“I know John wants to be present at the birth and from a team perspective we’ll give him that opportunity. It’s his decision what he wants to do.”
Queensland captain Cameron Smith said NSW would feel the loss of utility Kurt Gidley, who was ruled out last night with ligament damage in his foot.
“Kurt’s a wonderful player and he was picked for his versatility for the mid-year Test [against New Zealand],” said Meninga.
“He’s got the most versatile game in the competition and can fill any position in the backline or play hooker or lock.”
Rookie NSW No.6 James Maloney will be Queensland’s number one target after beating Todd Carney to the job.
Asked if Maloney would feel the heat making his debut in front of an 80,000 home crowd, Meninga said: “Probably, I’m hoping so.
“He’s playing great football, he had been playing great football for the Warriors but he’s come up another level with the Roosters,” he said.
“The club combination with Mitchell Pearce makes sense to pick them as NSW halves, he’s got a good kicking game and he’s a great goal kicker as well.
“He’s a good support player and he adds plenty to their side.”
Emotions flowed at Suncorp Stadium as members of Queensland’s last non-Origin side to beat NSW 54 years ago stood side by side with Meninga’s current stars.
Meninga sprung a surprise on 450 guests at last night’s Origin dinner as members of the victorious 1959 Queensland series were introduced on stage along with his players to contest this year’s interstate series. AAP