Maroons skipper Daly Cherry Evans insisted he was fully fit for the first time in two months after admitting he had told some "little white lies" about his injury woes over the past two months.
The halfback has not missed a training session before the State of Origin series decider at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, a far cry from the previous two camps where he sat out sessions to rest his ankle and a bruised shoulder.
Cherry-Evans had ankle surgery five weeks after suffering a serious injury in Manly's round-seven clash with the Raiders. His talk and organisational skills came to the fore in the 18-14 win in Origin I and he had few opportunities to shine during the Blues’ 38-6 win in Perth.
In both those games he was not 100% fit but he is now.
"It is the best that I have felt. I have probably thrown a few little white lies out there around my fitness over the last couple of months," Cherry-Evans said in Brisbane on Monday morning.
"You couldn’t tell? That is a part of footy. The fact that I have taken part in every training session this week is something that I haven’t done since coming back from injury so I will take a lot of confidence out of my preparation this week and the way I am moving around the field.
DCE: Every game you lose tests you as a player
"It is exciting. For once I can honestly say I am feeling good, and feeling great going into a game of footy."
At his best Cherry-Evans is taking on the line and supporting down the middle of the field with gusto. While he has a varied role as captain and halfback, it is an aspect of his game he hopes will be in full swing on Wednesday night.
"Provided the opportunities come up. My job first and foremost is to steer this team around. I am the halfback and I need to be communicating. I need to be nice and clear on what we are trying to do and the boys will trust me doing that," he said.
"Off the back of that if we can generate those quick play-the-balls I feel as though I am playing my best when I am attacking the defensive line."
Cherry-Evans was coy on whether Moses Mbye, who has trained the last week at left centre, would start the game with Michael Morgan reverting to the bench utility.
Back-rower Matt Gillett is racing the clock to be fit to play after suffering a groin injury at training and the Maroons skipper said Tuesday’s captain’s run would be crucial.
"As a teammate I am really hopeful that Gillo will be OK. I have asked him how he is feeling and he seems reasonably confident but he is not going to know until he has a run around tomorrow. It is one of those ones where, with the player he is, you give him every chance," Cherry Evans said.
In recent days Maroons legend Darren Lockyer has said this game would be a defining moment in Cherry-Evans’s career.
"It is a big game, no doubt about it. I am really excited about what lies ahead but you just can’t get too far ahead of yourself," DCE said.
Maroons to make call on Gillett on Tuesday
"I have never been a player to have one game define me. I will play too much football beyond this game for it to define me as a player. Do I understand how big an occasion it is? One hundred per cent, and I am excited by that opportunity."
Cherry-Evans was involved in the last Queensland win in a decider in Sydney in 2013. The Maroons also won in Sydney when the series was on the line in 2008.
He said the current squad would draw "a lot" from those triumphs.
"It is just understanding that we are not going down there trying to do the impossible. It is a big task, and I have been involved in one of those games before. It is hard work, it is bloody hard work," he said.
"It takes a full 80-minute performance and full focus to get the job done. Understanding and reassuring the boys that this isn’t impossible and this is very, very real … that is the mindset that we need to have .This isn’t too big for us."