Injured Queensland star Daly Cherry-Evans will need to train through the entire lead-up if he’s to play in State of Origin I, according to coach Kevin Walters.
Cherry-Evans is racing the clock to prove his fitness for this year’s series-opener on June 5 after undergoing surgery on his ankle two weeks ago.
Walters met with Cherry-Evans during Magic Round in Brisbane, where the Manly captain suggested he’d be back for the Sea Eagles’ round-10 clash with Gold Coast.
It’ll be his final shot at a hitout before the Maroons team is announced next week.
“Daly’s obviously got some issues there with his ankle,” Walters said.
“But he seemed really confident over the weekend that he’s going to do everything that he can to try and get himself right to get a game in before Origin.
“I’m confident that he’ll certainly be available. We don’t really know until he starts running and all that that goes with it.”
Walters is likely to select Cherry-Evans even if he doesn’t face the Titans, however only on the condition the halfback will be able to train all camp.
The demand comes after their problematic preparation for their game-one loss last year, where four players were unable to train at different stages.
Walters has vowed not to let injuries disrupt their build-up again.
“We’ve had that conversation. He’ll need to hit the ground running and be training with the team all week,” Walters said of Cherry-Evans.
“We had that problem last year … We had four guys that couldn’t train for most of the week with Ben Hunt, Billy Slater, Michael Morgan, and Josh McGuire all carrying injuries or not having played for some time.
“So we won’t be doing that this year, we’ll be getting some fit Queenslanders who are ready to go for game one.”
With Walters adamant that Cameron Smith wouldn’t come out of retirement to play, the Maroons are also in search of a new skipper this year.
And Cherry-Evans, with seven Origin games under his belt, is widely considered the leading contender to take the captaincy from the retired Billy Slater.
“DCE is one, Michael Morgan is another one, Cameron Munster, they’re the three at the moment that stand out more than anybody else,” Walters said.