State of Origin 2016: Cooper Cronk will play for Qld
STAR Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk will take his place in tonight's opening State of Origin game in Sydney.
Cronk, who has spent the past four days receiving intense physio on his sprained ankle, made the decision this morning after testing his injury during a training session late on Tuesday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
The Queensland camp has been privately 'filthy' over comments from some members of the NSW team that Cronk's injury was a smokescreen.
But Cronk will now be able to share in Melbourne Storm teammate Cameron Smith's history-making 37th Origin game - the most by any player - breaking Darren Lockyer's previous record. set in 2011. (See our tribute video above)
Coach Kevin Walters left the final decision up to Cronk, who has played 15 games for Queensland.
Walters had been prepared to play North Queensland's Michael Morgan at five-eighth and shift Johnathan Thurston to halfback had Cronk given him the thumbs down.
"We're as honest as the day is long," said Walters, when told the Blues were dirty about reports Cronk was in doubt when in their opinion the 32 year-old was always going to play.
Walter admitted that despite have played 20 Origins for Queensland, he was "nervous" about his debut as Maroons coach.
"Yeah, I am a bit nervous but I was every time I played, especially my very first Origin game in 1989," he said.
Rain is forecast tonight and the players went for their traditional team walk in Parramatta this morning under heavily overcast skies.
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Bookmaker sportsbet.com report heavy backing for Queensland to win the game, but say NSW will start favourite despite one punter putting $22,000 on the Maroons today at $2.
Rookie Queensland winger Corey Oates is all the rage with punters to score the first try at $9.
"The backing for Oates in phenomenal," said Sportsbet's Christian Jantzen.
"We've never seen a player backed like him before in Origin. Almost one third of all the money is riding on him to score first."