Gagai’s guise, Johns’ conspiracy theory
DANE Gagai has been cleared to play in Origin I but the Queensland winger was still making a concerted effort to hide his injured finger as the Maroons took a team walk through Melbourne on Wednesday morning.
Ten News reporter Veronica Eggleton filmed Gagai keeping his right finger - which he suffered a compound dislocation to at training on Tuesday - firmly tucked into the pocket of his jumper as the Maroons threw a ball around in the park.
The secrecy adds fuel to the theory Queensland has been playing "ducks and drakes" when it comes to the health of some of its key players for Wednesday night's series opener.
Ben Hunt's availability has been strongly questioned and former Blues player Matty Johns floated the idea Queensland elevated Anthony Milford to its bench on Tuesday for reasons it had not explained.
"Let's talk conspiracies now, maybe they're hiding the fact that maybe Ben Hunt's leg's not right, maybe Anthony Milford's going to start and Kalyn Ponga's going to start on the bench," Johns said on Triple M's The Grill Team.
"All these things, all these little nuances, and as we said, this is part of the game.
"I'm not saying these players aren't injured, they are injured, but there's some ducks and drakes.
"You remember last series, influenza, a bug went right through the camp. Suddenly half their players were in doubt. Guess what? They all played."
Johns suggested Milford could play a major role if Hunt wasn't right. "Milford's been put onto the bench, Ponga's been made 18th man," Johns said.
"It's Kevvy's decision, that's the thing, and he's opted for more depth in the halves and more to the point he's opted for a Plan B in the halves because Ben Hunt has struggled with this leg injury the last two outings.
"He's got a really bad cork, he limped around two starts back for the 80 minutes.
"Last start back against Penrith he didn't finish the game, he finished the game on the exercise bike on the sideline.
"Now Kevvy obviously has concerns with Ben Hunt's leg injury so he's gone for Anthony Milford."