D-DAY has arrived for injured halfback Cooper Cronk who is set to run with the Queensland Origin side in its final training session at ANZ Stadium today to try to prove his fitness for tomorrow night's opening game against New South Wales.

Coach Kevin Walters and the Maroons medical team remain optimistic the swelling and pain in Cronk's sprained ankle will not stop the 32 year-old Storm star from playing his 16th State of Origin game.

Australian Regional Media understands Cowboys forward Gavin Cooper will join the Maroons camp in Sydney as 18th man today, with Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman expected to come onto the bench if Michael Morgan has to replace Cronk.

 

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Ironically Cronk was injured early in the first game of 2014, which Queensland lost, and didn't play in game two when New South Wales ended Queensland's record eight-series winning streak.

Queensland captain Cameron Smith said he saw Cronk, who has been receiving around-the-clock physio treatment, for the first time on Monday since the halfback sprained his ankle last Friday.

"He was walking unassisted without crutches and out of the moon boot, so that was a good sign," said Smith.

"I reckon he's a chance of playing although there's no guarantee at the moment."

"He has still got a fair bit of swelling there, but the medial staff are fairly confident that he is a good chance of playing on Wednesday night."

Walters would want Cronk to try and run today so he and the team's medical staff can assess his recovery, and also the risk of the ankle blowing up again.

" I know Coops (Cronk) would be pretty keen to do that also," said Smith.

"Given his experience and his understanding of our game plan, if he is not quite right, I don't think we will risk him.

"Kevvie wants to give him every chance to play, there's no doubt about that.

"We've still got some time up our sleeve."

Michael Morgan has impressed Walters and Smith by the way he has smoothly slotted into the five-eighth role at training. If Cronk is not close to 100%, Morgan will step into the breach alongside Cowboys halves partner Johnathan Thurston.

Late NSW inclusion Josh Morris, meanwhile, is ready to renew his Origin battle with Queensland's Greg Inglis after replacing injured right centre Josh Dugan.

"It's bad luck for Duges (Dugan) but it's a great opportunity for me," said Morris who was set to play for Canterbury against Canberra on Sunday before getting an SOS from Blues coach Laurie Daley after Dugan's elbow failed to respond to treatment.

- WAYNE HEMING



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