Blues hopeful Haas injury will be no big Payne
NSW are hopeful Payne Haas's preparations for State of Origin I won't be further impacted after the star front-rower suffered an ankle sprain.
Haas sent a shudder through the Blues camp on Friday when he rolled his ankle in training at Coogee Oval, and left the ground to seek medical treatment.
The Brisbane star was later spotted with ice applied to his ankle and with his left leg elevated on a grandstand bench, as NSW finished training without him.
Blues officials moved quickly to assure gathered media the treatment was only precautionary, confident Haas was not in any doubt for Wednesday's series opener.
They were also optimistic Haas would be able to resume training when NSW regather on Sunday after breaking for the weekend.
"It's precautionary," Blues advisor Greg Alexander said.
"It's an ankle sprain. He just trod on the boot of someone as he was running backwards and he's just gone over on the ankle.
"He'll be right Sunday. He'll train on Sunday.
"There's not a history. It's just an ankle sprain that needs icing at the moment."
NSW players were also hoping there were no serious issues for Haas, with halfback Nathan Cleary labelling the situation as "not ideal" five days out from the series opener.
Any concerns over Haas' fitness would be a serious concern for the Blues, given his ability to play big minutes through the middle of the field.
NSW desperately needed the front-rower in last year's decider which he missed with a shoulder injury as the Blues went down 22-12 at Suncorp Stadium.
The middle has already been an issue of concern for NSW in the lead up to this series.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard's Origin hopes were dashed last month when he suffered a serious groin injury, while Jake Trbojevic has been ruled out with a calf tear.
The Blues have Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu in camp, while Newcastle's Daniel Saifiti was put on standby for selection last weekend.
Jack de Belin was another player NSW enquired about, and David Klemmer would be another option not used since 2019.
Utoikamanu said earlier in the week that he was hopeful the fact he had been called into camp multiple times meant he was not far from a Blues debut.
"It's just crazy that these guys are here and I'm here with them," Utoikamanu said.
"They're all really good players, you've got Payne, you've got heaps of mad forwards here, you've got (Isaah) Yeo, Cam Murray.
"All of them are at the peak of their game. Just to be here and learn a little bit, it's going to be big for me.
"If I get the opportunity to play, I'll be stoked."