Time out through injury shouldn’t scupper Jai Arrow’s Origin chances says coach Garth Brennan.A painful rib injury will keep Jai Arrow off the park for at least one NRL game but his coach thinks the in-form forward has already done enough to earn a State of Origin debut.
The Gold Coast prop has been the one bright light at the otherwise struggling club, leading the way in the middle to force his way into Kevin Walters’ Queensland calculations.
But he has battled back spasms in recent weeks and was hospitalised during last weekend’s loss to Canberra with a painful rib contusion.
The bizarre injury was caused by a collision with Raiders forward Junior Paulo, with Arrow’s rib cage moving from its normal position and causing distress to the organs around it.
He was cleared of any internal damage but has been left out of coach Garth Brennan’s 21-man squad to play Melbourne in Brisbane on Saturday.
It is awkward timing ahead of the June 6 Origin opener in Melbourne but Brennan is confident Arrow will remain in the frame.
“I think he’s got runs on the board, but that’s up to Kevvie (Walters) and he’s got some options … but I don’t think it’ll hurt him too much.”
“He’s still a bit sore but he’s not going to pull himself out of the team, so I have to protect him a little bit.”
Former Maroons forward Gorden Tallis also endorsed Arrow’s ascension on Tuesday.
“I’ve never heard of that injury, (so it depends) how much pain he’s in,” Tallis said.
“Absolutely, he’s in the mix, and has shown enough that he’s ready to take the next step.”
Meanwhile Titans teammate and incumbent Blues hooker Nathan Peats is also on the cusp of a return from a rib injury after being named in the side’s 21-man squad.
Peats has dropped down the pecking order to retain the Blues’ No.9 but has put the heat on his coach to return for the struggling Titans, Brennan joking that he had “threatened” his way back.
“No in all seriousness, he’s there because he’s a real close chance of playing,” Brennan said.
“I’ll give him every chance to prove his fitness, but I’m not going to risk him.”