NRL young gun answers Maroons’ Origin SOS
Cronulla rookie Kurt Capewell raced to Perth overnight to answer an Origin SOS from Queensland coach Kevin Walters. The Maroons camp is in disarray following injury and illness for key stars.
Napa is adamant his damaged hand will withstand a brutal Game Two at Optus Stadium, but Walters wants contingency options for his squad given the tyranny of distance between Brisbane and Perth.
Capewell arrived at the Queensland team hotel at 9pm last night as additional cover with Napa and winger Dane Gagai (virus) suffering setbacks in the build-up to State of Origin's inaugural game in Western Australia.
The Sharks back-rower was 19th man for the series opener and has rejoined the squad in place of Newcastle winger Edrick Lee, who was unable to attend as a development player.
Capewell was visiting his brother, former Ipswich Jets forward Liam, in Toowoomba when he received the late call to pack his bags and head to the west.
Napa says he is in "no doubt" for Origin II but a series of key training sessions, starting today at HBF Park, formerly nib Stadium, will ultimately determine if he gets the green light from Maroons medicos.
The 113kg enforcer has been walking around Queensland's team hotel with his right hand encased in a black cast.
Should Napa be cleared, Christian Welch will be Queensland's 18th man with Capewell and Dragons playmaker Corey Norman completing the Maroons' 20-man squad.
Napa's unlikely withdrawal would see Welch promoted to make his State of Origin debut.
Napa is not the only Maroon with some issues, with Gagai quarantined from the rest of the Queensland squad as he looks to overcome illness ahead of the return bout.
Gagai was Queensland's hero in Origin I with the Souths ace producing the superb 95-metre intercept try which spearheaded the Maroons' epic 18-14 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
But the Maroons flyer has not been sighted in recent days after being ordered to have bed-rest by Queensland doctors.
The 28-year-old did not take part in a Queensland pool recovery session on Monday.
Gagai was also absent at a media session on Tuesday after advising team management he was "crook" and he did not attend a fan-day promotion later that afternoon.
He was also a no-show for the Maroons' official team photo, but Walters is confident he will recover in time to start on the right wing against the Blues.
The Maroons are banking on Gagai's brilliance with the Test flanker having scored 11 tries from 11 Origin games since his Queensland debut in 2015.
Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster said Gagai was crucial to Queensland's hopes of finishing off NSW and reclaiming the Origin shield in Perth.
"He's a big-game player," Munster said. "It doesn't matter if Dane is playing well or not in club football, whenever he comes into this Queensland team he steps up and plays great football.
"He's so important to our team."