Injured NSW prop David Klemmer has declared he will be fit to return for the final game of the series despite initial fears his campaign was over.
The Knights front-rower, who was arguably the best forward on the field in the opening game of the State of Origin series, suffered a broken wrist with just his second carry in game one at Suncorp Stadium.
It was expected Klemmer wouldn’t take part in the rest of the series, but in a huge boost to the Blues’ hopes of retaining the shield – if they can level the series in Perth on Sunday night - the 25-year-old has vowed to take his place in a potential decider in Sydney.
“I was told four to six weeks but the way things are tracking, I will be right for game three,” Klemmer told NRL.com.
“Obviously I would have loved to have been there and I tried everything I could to be there for game two, but I believe in the boys. We weren’t far off in game one, so I back them to get the job done in Perth and head back home to try and win the series.
“I’m disappointed I’m not there but I have faith in the people Freddie has chosen. I believe in the players he's got there.”
One player Klemmer is particularly keen to watch is his Newcastle teammate, Daniel Saifiti.
Saifiti came from left field to win a spot on the Blues team as Klemmer’s replacement. While the selection bemused many, Klemmer has thrown his support behind Saifiti’s shock call up.
“If you look at our games over the past couple of months, Daniel’s a big reason for the success we’ve had,” Klemmer said.
“When I heard he was a chance I was that happy for him, but also confident for the Blues because I know what job he will do. He’s a big body and he won’t be afraid to take it to them.
“In Origin you need to be confident in your own ability and enjoy doing the hard stuff – that’s something he can do. I’m pumped for him. He won’t let anyone down I can tell you that much.”
Saifiti is one of several changes in the NSW pack, with Wade Graham, Dale Finucane and Tariq Sims also brought into the forward rotation.
Sims, who play in game three last year, was overlooked for this year’s opener in favour of the Sydney Roosters’ Angus Crichton.
While he was disappointed not to be part of game one, he understands how quickly things can change in rugby league.
“I know first hand that life and football can change in one injury,” he said.
“You're not guaranteed anything, you've got to go out there and make things happen. I found out the hard way with my leg - you can be on top of the world one week then injure yourself and be at the bottom of the barrel the next.
“It's just about taking opportunities, adjusting and always expanding your game. That's one of my main focuses, not to pigeon hole myself. You've got to expand your game, be in the middle and be diverse.
The Blues missed Sims’ aggression in game one, lacking firepower off the bench as they fell away in the second half.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 2 -
Venue: Optus Stadium
- Nine Network
While Sims is known for his physical nature, he hopes he is able to assert himself into the contest much more than what he did in his debut last year.
“It's kind of tough because when I came on in my first game we tackled for 10 minutes straight,” he said.
“We were under the pump and had one in the bin. We just tackled and tackled and tackled. It zaps you of your energy. There's no spot players and every player is there for a reason because they're there for a reason.
“If I get an opportunity I will be running as hard as I can and tackling as hard as I can.”