The ink was hardly dry on the Maroons
selection sheet yesterday when it became apparent that no less than three
Maroons were under an injury cloud – the same problem the Blues confronted
about three weeks ago.

On the other hand, the Blues selection
process was very much a “steady as she goes” affair – just one change, the very
experienced Dragons forward, Luke Bailey, is in for the injured Luke O’Donnell.
And there seem to be no injury worries whatsoever.

After ten days of controversy, the Maroons
selectors did not push the panic button, making only three changes in the first
13. But no less than three more might now be needed.

Dropped from the Origin one team were fullback
Matt Bowen (replaced by the current test fullback, Karmichael Hunt), and
forwards David Stagg and Matt Scott. They have been replaced by the experienced
Tonie Carroll and Carol Webb from the interchange bench. The experienced Chris
Flannery comes into the squad.

Maroons fans will say fair enough. But the
injury news looks like being a nightmare for the Maroons coach, Mal Meninga.
The game’s new star, Greg Inglis, is certain to be out with injury, and there
must be real doubt about the fitness of Tonie Carroll and centre Justin Hodges.

You would think the Maroons selectors would
have learnt from the experience of their Blues counterparts.

If the Blues have an uninterrupted
preparation, they will deservedly be short price favourites on Wednesday week.

On the domestic front, the NRL has thrown
the book at no less than eight players after the weekend round of premiership
matches. Six, yes six, players have been charged with a dangerous throw – once
called the spear tackle.

A couple face long stints on the sideline
if they are found guilty – or even if they take an early guilty plea.

I saw a couple of dangerous throws at the
weekend – especially the one involving Roosters player Lopini Paea – and they
were quite frightening, so on this issue the NRL is spot on!

Peter Fray

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