Queensland’s star rookie Kurt Capewell is adamant he will play Game II in Sydney next week despite a groin injury.
The 27-year-old picked up the injury at training last week but it wasn’t enough to stop him from making his Origin debut in the Maroons’ shock 18-14 win over the Blues.
Capewell was originally named in the reserves but was a late addition in the centres replacing Brenko Lee who couldn’t overcome a calf injury, also picked up at training. Although, even if Lee were to play it was expected Capewell would be promoted into the side at the expense of Phillip Sami.
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The Panthers utility was an absolute superstar for the Maroons with a number of tough carries and setting up Qld’s first try.
Capewell later succumbed to the groin injury and left the field in the 76th minute but he has indicated he will be fine for Game II.
“I felt it was best for the team to get off the field and get someone else out there who could run but I plan on playing next week,” Capewell said.
Triple M’s Ben Dobbin revealed on Saturday that the team doctors are “confident” and are working “overtime” to ensure Capewell is ready to go.
“I haven’t spoken to Capewell but I’ve spoken with his mother and she’s said he’s going to be right,” Dobbin said.
“The (Maroons doctors) have said it’s not a tear and they’re going to work overtime and are pretty confident they’re going to get him right.”
Coach Wayne Bennett named Brenko Lee is in the reserves should Caepwell not recover fully, however Dobbin said Lee won’t be risked.
“(Lee) is in the squad but my mail is that he’s still not right and so they’re not prepared to risk him.”
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Meanwhile, the injury to AJ Brimson forced Bennett a change to his winning spine. He’s named Valentine Holmes — who missed Game I through suspension — in the No.1 jersey.
Dobbin says a different idea was floated at one stage though.
“There was a bit of talk before Wayne made these selections that they were contemplating Ben Hunt at No.6 and shifting Munster to fullback,” he said.
“If they did they were going to put Val (Holmes) onto the wing and bring Harry Grant into that (bench) spot… they’ve shifted away from that and Wayne’s said that’s definitely not going to happen.”
It’s a good thing Bennett has opted for Holmes at fullback rather than on the wing because the Cowboys star believes he plays his best footy in the middle.
Holmes has played five Origin games but all have been on the wing.
“It’s special and an honour to pull on the jersey in the first place. To play fullback, a lot of great fullbacks have played for this state and represented the state really well,” he told The Courier Mail.
“I like to be around the ball more and pushing up through the middle.
“I know I can finish on the wings. When you have a great team like this they can make you look good on the wing.
“To get the best out of me, I need to be touching the ball more through the middle third and getting off some good ruck speed and offloads. That’s where I’ve always found my best footy. You’re limited on the wing.
“I’ve had a great time playing wing here so I’m pretty happy wherever I play.”
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For NSW, coach Brad Fittler was forced to make changes to his side with Cameron Murray and Boyd Cordner both ruled out for the remainder of the series. He’s promoted Angus Crichton to the starting role and Nathan Brown onto the bench to make his debut.
Meanwhile, Luke Keary was brutally dropped as a result of the loss and Cody Walker has been given the nod at five-eighth.
Fittler has also tweaked his forward pack and added some size to the bench — something the Blues lacked in Game I. Junior Paulo and Payne Haas have swapped roles, Dale Finucane has recovered from a calf complaint to join the bench and Isaah Yeo will make his debut. At this stage, NSW won’t carry a utility back on the bench.
1. James Tedesco (c)
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Clint Gutherson
4. Jack Wighton
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cody Walker
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Payne Haas
11. Angus Crichton
12. Tyson Frizell
13. Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14. Dale Finucane, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Nathan Brown*, 17. Isaah Yeo*
Coach: Brad Fittler
1. Valentine Holmes
2. Xavier Coates
3. Kurt Capewell
4. Dane Gagai
5. Phillip Sami
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Dunamis Lui*
9. Jake Friend
10. Josh Papalii
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Jadyn Su’A
13. Tino Faasuamaleaui
Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt, 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Moeaki Fotuaika*
Coach: Wayne Bennett
*DENOTES ORIGIN DEBUTANT