Laurie Daley's plans to mastermind a first State of Origin series win for NSW in nine years may have to be reassessed with incumbent five-eighth James Maloney facing up to six weeks on the sideline and centre Michael Jennings likely to be out of action for at least a fortnight.
Sydney Roosters' 20-point win over St George Illawarra on Anzac Day was a return to form for the premiers but the gloss was taken off by the disappearance up the Allianz Stadium tunnel of Maloney (shoulder) and Jennings (ankle) late in the second half.
Both players made the short walk to the Roosters' offices afterwards for X-rays, the results of which will be of great interest to club and state coaches Trent Robinson and Daley.
Maloney's suspected grade-two injury to his AC joint was the more serious of the setbacks, and both players will almost certainly be scratched from Sunday week's City-Country Origin trial in Dubbo.
Incumbent Blues No.6 and goalkicker Maloney could also find himself in doubt for the first match of the Origin series in Brisbane on May 28.
"Maloney's got an AC joint injury. It looks like a grade two at this stage and we're having an X-ray," Roosters doctor Ameer Ibrahim said. "They can settle down within two to three weeks and sometimes they can linger for up to six.
"Michael Jennings has a ligament sprain on his ankle, on the medial side which is good. [It's] not as bad as the outer side, so hopefully that's not too bad."
Daley will name his squad for Origin I in just over three weeks and was eager to have five-eighth contenders Maloney and Josh Reynolds go head-to-head in the City-Country match. In the absence of Maloney, the Country halves candidates are Jarrod Mullen, Todd Carney and Albert Kelly, with Canterbury five-eighth Reynolds paired with South Sydney's Adam Reynolds as City playmakers.
Another contender for the Blues' No.6 jumper, Souths captain John Sutton, is set to be rested from the trip to Dubbo, along with Roosters and NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce, utility Kurt Gidley and centre Josh Morris.
Robinson acknowledged Maloney and Jennings would be little to no chance of featuring in the City-Country clash but was more confident of their Origin I prospects.
"Jimmy doesn't [usually] come off with an injury, so I'd say he'd be in grave doubt for City-Country," Robinson said. "[But] I don't think they're too bad. I think they'll be both pushing it for Wests Tigers, which we've got two weeks on Friday, but I'd say they'll definitely both be back for the following week."
Before the injury, Maloney's chances of retaining his spot had been been lifted in the annual Anzac Day showdown, not least by the sublime cut-out pass that sent veteran Anthony Minichiello over for a try just before half-time.