MANLY halfback Daly Cherry-Evans looked long odds to play against New South Wales in Origin II in Sydney next week when he hobbled out to face the media at Queensland training on Wednesday.
But yesterday he discarded his knee brace and ran a number of straight line and swerve drills at half-pace under the guidance of the team physio and team doctor, without appearing to be in too much discomfort.
That wasn't the only good news for Maroons coach Mal Meninga - other injured stars Billy Slater (shoulder) and Greg Inglis (ankle) also turned out for some form of training at the Sanctuary Cove resort on the Gold Coast.
Slater started the mid-afternoon field session with his teammates, while Inglis shed his moonboot to do some laps of the resort's private pool with former Queensland hooker and coaching staff member Jason Hetherington.
The Rabbitohs star was upbeat, but kept the weight off his sprained ankle during a 30-minute pool workout.
While Slater remains in doubt, he is likely to have his injured shoulder braced and strapped and play with the aid of a pre-game injection.
Centre Justin Hodges, who will finally get his Dick Turner medal for playing 20 Origin games, said the importance to the team of the three players battling injury would convince coach Mal Meninga to give them as much time as they felt they needed before making a decision.
"Look, the hardest decision to make in these big games is to pull out," he said. "But the last thing you want to do is go into a big game, and suddenly you can't finish the game and the whole team has to suffer. I think the boys will make a call over the weekend. We want all the boys to play."
Five-eighth Johnathan Thurston said if Ben Hunt was thrown into the No.7 Maroon jumper on Wednesday night he would handle the occasion.
"We've got enough experienced players in this team to help guide him around if he comes in late," Thurston said.
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