Brad Fittler’s NSW Blues team announcement is set to drop on Tuesday at 11am, with a number of key contenders still to play on Monday night.
Bulldogs enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior has reportedly lost his spot after a poor performance against the Eels on Monday.
Nathan Cleary’s halfback replacement is still up in the air, while a fresh injury blow has already ruled out hooker Apisai Koroisau.
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Meanwhile, gun backrower Liam Martin is reportedly set to be cleared alongside a Rabbitohs duo.
Plus — a few bolters have emerged for a key bench spot with one player reportedly winning the battle.
Read below for all NSW team updates ahead of Tuesday’s team announcement!
Brooks set to leave Wests Tigers | 01:23
TPJ DROPPED FOR PANTHERS ENFORCER
The Blues are set to drop Bulldogs enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior for Panthers prop Spencer Leniu, according to former NSW player Michael Ennis.
Pangai Junior made his Blues debut in Game 1 but was poor for Canterbury against the Eels on Monday afternoon.
“I’ve got a bit of mail that Spencer Leniu will come in for Tevita,” Ennis said on NRL 360 on Monday night.
Leniu was binned for his involvement in a melee with Roosters veteran Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on Saturday night.
But his form for the reigning premiers has been strong and it could be rewarded with NSW debut in their must-win Game 2 at Suncorp Stadium.
KEY NSW TRIO SET TO BE CLEARED
Panthers gun Liam Martin will reportedly be cleared to take the field after a nasty head knock against the Roosters.
The 26-year-old’s head hit the hip of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and was ruled to have shown category one symptoms.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Martin texted his manager Allan Gainey and said “no symptoms over the last couple of days”.
Martin could now be cleared medically if he passes the NRL’s six-step concussion protocol for returning players.
He could even return to training in the coming days if NRL exemption is provided.
Meanwhile, Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray are reportedly set to be fit from their respective calf and groin injuries.
NSW Blues officials have reportedly agreed to South Sydney’s instructions for rehabilitation that the pair must not train before Sunday.
The SMH are reporting Blues doctor Nathan Gibbs and head physio Dan Lawson watched on as the pair passed every fitness test.
Speaking after the Rabbitohs’ loss to the Dragons, coach Jason Demetriou said their fitness will be determined on Monday.
“I think they will run Monday, I understand Freddy is naming the team on Tuesday,” Demetriou said.
“The physios will work over the weekend and then on Monday and see how they go, until then we won’t really know.
“I haven’t been with them when they are doing it, they are in the rehab group… the physios are working hard and they aren’t even trying to make a call yet.
“They are giving them every opportunity they can and come Monday they will assess them and every run you do, you might wake up the next day feeling great, or you might have to go a day back.
“Everyone is going to have to wait and see, it’s one of those things.”
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BOLTERS EMERGE IN BIG BLUES BENCH CALL
Nicho Hynes was named in the position for game one but struggled to have any impact, instead only brought off the bench to replace Tom Trbojevic after the Manly star suffered a head knock.
It saw Fittler come under intense scrutiny and could prompt the NSW coach to go in a different direction for the Suncorp clash next week.
In fact, Blues advisor Greg Alexander confirmed on Sunday that two bolters — Reece Robson and Cameron McInnes — are in the frame for a bench spot.
“His name [Cameron McInnes] has been discussed because of his ability to do a couple of things,” Alexander said on Fox League’s pre-game show.
“He is a fantastic defender. He is tough as nails and I think it’s disappointing McInnes hasn’t played Origin already, so his name has been discussed.”
Now The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio is reporting Robson has been selected to play in Game II and will make his Origin debut for NSW.
The Cowboys hooker has a high workrate but also boasts speed out of dummy-half that could test the Queensland defence.
“I know he was around the camp a couple of years ago, I just think he is made for Origin,” Bryan Fletcher said on Sunday.
“He’s tough and has good service out of the ruck, you would think (Cook) is the logical choice, but I think Robson deserves to be in the conversation.”
It is yet to be confirmed but Robson is firming for a spot on the bench.
Sharks get caught in Storm of tries | 02:24
HYNES’ ORIGIN AUDITION… FALLS FLAT
Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes is a leading contender in the race to win the vacant halfback spot, but did nothing to boost his chances on Sunday afternoon.
The reigning Dally M Medallist failed to inspire his team to glory against the Storm, going down 54-10 at AAMI Park.
While his latest performance may have hurt his chances, there’s no denying Hynes’ quality and Storm coach Craig Bellamy gave him a glowing endorsement.
The experienced coach said his former fullback is the obvious choice to fill Cleary’s shoes at Suncorp Stadium.
“His team got beat by a pretty big score today, that wasn’t all Nicho’s fault. I don’t understand, he’s the Dally M winner, he won that last year,” Bellamy said.
“He was on the bench for NSW last game and only came on for what five or six minutes.
“It is hard sitting there for 76 minutes and then try and make an imprint, that’s not easy to do.
“To me, with Nathan out, I’d be picking him every day of the week, I think he’s done enough over the last 18 months to prove that he’s an Origin player.
“If it was me, and it ain’t, but I’d be picking him every day of the week.”
Welch echoed his coach’s opinion, and despite being a Queenslander, gave Hynes his backing to wear the No.7.
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Sharks get caught in Storm of tries | 02:24
“You look at Cronulla’s rise, particularly last year how well they have gone. He’s a great person and a great game manager,” Welch said.
“I think he is like for like for Cleary… I really hope he gets picked because you can’t judge him on that last game where he came on and played in the centres.”
Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds put his best foot forward with a strong performance to down the Knights on Saturday, while Mitchell Moses is yet to stamp his claim.