NSW fullback dilemma intensifies as Papenhuyzen joins Tedesco in Origin fitness race

Papenhuyzen, as well as Storm teammates Dale Finucane and Josh Addo-Carr, arrived at NSW’s Central Coast camp on Wednesday afternoon to undergo a series of medical examinations on the calf strain.

Melbourne’s grand final celebrations since Sunday night wouldn’t have provided Papenhuyzen much time to treat the injury, while the consumption of alcohol would have only hampered his recovery.

Blues teammates Jack Wighton, Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary watch on during last week's Dally M Medal ceremony.

Blues teammates Jack Wighton, Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary watch on during last week’s Dally M Medal ceremony.Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Gutherson has predominantly been training at fullback for the Blues during training with Tedesco on restricted duties. The Roosters fullback has given himself until Saturday to make a decision.

The Blues are on Thursday expected to announce a 21-man squad for game one at Adelaide Oval next Wednesday, with Fittler still uncertain on the make-up of his best 17.

The fullback conundrum will go a long way to determining the back line, given Fittler had earmarked Gutherson to partner Jack Wighton in the centres, but the uncertainty around his first-choice fullbacks could see him bring in another debutant.

If Gutherson moves to fullback, St George Illawarra’s Zac Lomax and Penrith’s Stephen Crichton will do battle for the centre position expected to be vacated by the Eels captain’s shift.

Working in Lomax’s favour is the fact he is a specialist right centre, however he hasn’t played since the first weekend of September when the Dragons bowed out of the competition. Crichton is a left centre, however he has the added advantage of being in peak condition given the Panthers only finished up a few days ago after the grand final loss to Melbourne at ANZ Stadium.

The Blues are confident five-eighth Luke Keary will be fit to play despite adding Jarome Luai to the squad as extra cover at five-eighth on top of the inclusion of Walker.


Fittler also has to decide between Canberra’s Nick Cotric and the Roosters’ Daniel Tupou for the right wing spot. The front row rotation was also a topic of conversation at the Blues’ selection meeting on Wednesday with one of Junior Paulo, Payne Haas, Daniel Saifiti and Reagan Campbell-Gillard a chance of being left out of the side.

Queensland are expected to blood up to nine debutants for the opening game of the series, including AJ Brimson, Xavier Coates, Brenko Lee, Tino Faasuamaleaui, Mosese Fotuaika, Lindsay Collins, Jake Friend, Jaydn Su’A and Kurt Capewell.

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