Meninga banks on trust
This story appeared first on NRL.com
Titans forward Dave Taylor is the latest Maroons player to have been handed an Origin lifeline after lock forward Corey Parker withdrew on Wednesday morning following confirmation of a facial fracture.
Parker suffered the knock just below his right eye when he clashed heads with Broncos team-mate Matt Gillett in the opening five minutes of Monday night's win over the Raiders and ruled himself out when told of possible permanent damage to his vision should he risk it and play.
Following the withdrawal of Josh Papalii on Monday and with continued injury concerns over Greg Inglis (ankle), Billy Slater (shoulder) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee), Taylor earned a recall two years in the making, reward for consistently strong performances for Gold Coast in the first half of the 2014 season.
Taylor's propensity to attempt high-risk plays at inopportune times was one of the key reasons for his Origin exile and while that aspect hasn't been completely eradicated from his game, Queensland coach Mal Meninga believes his game has shown enough maturity to warrant a call-up to the 21-man squad.
"I wasn't quite sure whether it was common knowledge but Dave has come into the squad – not quite sure whether he'll play or not – but he'll come into the squad and turn it into a 21-man squad again," Meninga said in the immediate aftermath of Parker's withdrawal.
"[Rugby league] is a simple game, it tests you mentally, it tests you physically and it tests you emotionally. They're the sort of things that you've got to overcome to make the heights of Origin footy or rep football and he's doing that really well at the moment."
There was no sign of Inglis at the team's open media session on Wednesday morning but Cherry-Evans fronted the media with his left leg still in a brace while Slater was not carrying his shoulder in a sling.
Players such as Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Willie Tonga, Will Chambers and now Taylor will all be anxiously awaiting whether they get to play next Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium in Sydney or released to play with their respective clubs if required with Meninga saying that the players who are injured will be the ones to make the call on whether they are able to play or not.
"I tell you what I do; I trust them. I trust them to give me an honest assessment of where they sit," Meninga said. "They've made some pretty good progress since the injury occurred and at the end of the day we trust them from a team perspective that they'll make the right decision by the team.
"[Inglis] is getting treated as much as we can and that's the good thing about being in camp, there's 24-hour service as far as treatment with injuries is concerned and it's the same with Billy and Daly.
"We're mindful that those [NRL] teams have got games this weekend so we'll try and make decisions as quick as we can and make sure that the clubs are looked after."
Since being elevated back into the Origin arena for Game One in 2011 Parker has missed just one of the following eight matches but said concerns over his long-term health and the welfare of his young family made pulling out of the squad the only decision.
"It's more to do with where it is fractured and the risk that if you get hit there again it can cause permanent double vision or some vision damage. The risks are too high to go on," said a crestfallen Parker who hopes to be passed fit to play Game Three on July 9.
"If there was no risk that you couldn't do too much damage you'd play but when they start talking permanent vision damage it's a decision that's pretty well made for you.
"You've got to look at things in a smart way at times and I've got three kids and I'd like to look at them for the rest of my life."