Maroons fullback Billy Slater.
Maroons fullback Billy Slater. Matt Robertsgetty IMAGES

Stars sidelined after bruising Origin clash

MELBOURNE Storm has worn the brunt of the injury carnage from Wednesday night's brutal State of Origin series opener with it's big three, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, all ruled out of tomorrow night's clash with North Queensland in Townsville.

Test halfback Cooper Cronk faces eight to 12 weeks on the sidelines after breaking his left arm in the first 10 minutes of the 12-8 loss, but the Storm's problems have been further compounded with skipper Smith (ankle) set to miss up to two weeks, and fullback Slater (pictured) facing up to three weeks out after suffering a grade-two AC shoulder joint injury.

Queensland faces the very real possibility of having to save the series in Sydney next month without the three Storm stars, while Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will delay settling his final side for the Cowboys clash until an hour before kick-off.

Manly didn't escape the Origin carnage either.

Daly Cherry-Evans, who played 70 of the 80 minutes after Cronk was injured, was on crutches after the game with a hip problem.

He and Manly teammate and Blues rival Anthony Watmough, who was sent for scans yesterday on a painful bicep injury, are in extreme doubt for Sunday's clash against the Broncos.

Brisbane will assess the availability of its Origin trio, Corey Parker, Justin Hodges and Matt Gillett, after training tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has put star fullback Jarryd Hayne's health above the need to have him on the field against Penrith tonight, resting his match-winner following a sensational man-of-the-match performance for the Blues.


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