Blues boost: Scans clear Roberts of injury concerns
SCANS have cleared NSW hopeful James Roberts of injury but the jury is out on how many Brisbane teammates will be picked for Queensland in the State of Origin opener.
The Broncos say Roberts is fit for selection for Origin I on June 6 in Melbourne despite the centre limping off in the second half of Thursday night's NRL win over Parramatta.
The X-factor left the field as a precaution with a left-ankle niggle and an ongoing achilles complaint in the same leg.
"James has had a precautionary scan today and there was no significant damage found," Broncos high-performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said.
"He does have some soreness in the achilles area but that is something we have been monitoring for a period of time now."
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said Roberts had been nursing the injury since the pre-season but claimed the strike centre would not be a fitness concern before the Blues team was named on Monday.
"It flares up every day but he will be right. I am sure he will play Origin if he gets picked," he said.
But it remains to be seen how many Broncos will feature for the Maroons.
The only years Brisbane players have not featured in a Queensland side were 1995 and 1997 during the Super League war.
And traditional powerhouse Brisbane's Queensland representation looks set to take a hit this year, with Matt Gillett (neck) out of the series and fellow Test backrower Josh McGuire (ankle) battling to be fit for game one.
However, Bennett talked up Brisbane's Maroons hopefuls Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, Andrew McCullough and Sam Thaiday, and didn't rule out McGuire making an Origin I comeback.
"I think he is close. He nearly played (against the Eels) and has been training flat out," Bennett said of McGuire's Origin I chances.
The Queensland team is named on Monday.
Maroons left-wing contenders Boyd and Oates impressed against the Eels.
However, speculation is rife the spot has already been snapped up by Cronulla's Valentine Holmes.
Bennett believed Oates, who was dumped by Queensland after Origin I last year, "can't do any more" to earn an Origin recall.
Oates scored a try - his seventh in six games against Parramatta - and amassed a whopping 216m on Thursday night.
"His last two games are certainly the best I have seen him play," Bennett said of 23-year-old Oates, who has played four Origins.
"He wants to get involved, he wants to make a difference. He hasn't always done that.
"He would sit out there on the wing and was happy to get cold and listen to the crowd."
McCullough hopes to replace Cameron Smith at hooker following the ex-skipper's shock representative retirement.
Tongan international Ofahengaue and 29-game veteran forward Thaiday, in his swan song NRL season, are Maroons bench options.
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