Cooper Cronk set to return for third Origin
STORM halfback Cooper Cronk is poised to make a stunning comeback from a broken arm as Queensland fights to avoid the first New South Wales Origin series clean sweep since 2000.
And Melbourne team-mate Will Chambers, part of the first two Origin camps this series, will be handed his State of Origin debut, replacing Cowboys veteran Brent Tate, who ruptured his ACL in game two in Sydney last month.
The Blues ended Queensland's eight-year Origin reign with a 6-4 victory in that spiteful encounter, following on from the 12-8 win in game one in Brisbane on May 28.
Cronk broke his arm in the early minutes of the season opener, throwing Queensland's game plan into damage control.
Many believe his deadly kicking game could have changed the result as the Maroons constantly attacked the Blues' line late in the match but were unable to break through.
Despite concerns about jeopardising Melbourne's premiership hopes if he rushes back too soon, the Storm's medical staff are happy for Cronk to suit up for Queensland in eight days, given he would be cleared to play against the Bulldogs on July 12 anyway.
"I wouldn't think it was that big risk if that was the case," Queensland's chairman of selectors Des Morris said.
"He's a very structured player and we need to win this game."
Rugged Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman, who answered an SOS to play off the bench in Origin II, will be rewarded with a promotion into Matt Scott's starting role with the Cowboys prop out of action with a facial fracture.
Speculation Dave Taylor would be dropped for making a crucial error late in game two appears wide of the mark.
The Titans giant is expected to hold his place on coach Mal Meninga's four-man interchange bench alongside Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans, rugby-bound Ben Te'o and Brisbane's impact utility Matt Gillett.
South Sydney back-rower Chris McQueen would have been on the bench, but he suffered an ankle injury in the 20-18 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville on the weekend.
McQueen's starting spot will be filled by Brisbane forward Corey Parker, who missed the second game with an eye socket injury.
Broncos big man Josh McGuire is expected to be the 18th man, while North Queensland's Michael Morgan, a revelation since switching to fullback for the Cowboys this season, could also join the Queensland camp at some stage.
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Likely Qld side
Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Will Chambers, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Jacob Lillyman, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra, Corey Parker. Interchange: Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Te'o, Matt Gillett, Dave Taylor. 18th man: Josh McGuire.