McGuire poised for early return
THE Maroons are on the verge of receiving a massive boost for Origin I, with Broncos star Josh McGuire set to face Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.
McGuire will undergo a fitness test on his ankle at Red Hill Wednesday morning after being named in Wayne Bennett's 21-man squad for the Eels encounter.
Kiwi Test back Jordan Kahu will also make his return from a broken jaw suffered in Brisbane's Round 2 win against the Cowboys.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters had been sweating on the fitness of McGuire, after the Test lock was expected to miss up to six weeks with an ankle injury suffered in Brisbane's Round 8 win against South Sydney.
But the 28-year-old could make his return after just four weeks, in a major boost for the Maroons ahead of the June 6 series opener at the MCG.
Walters will name his Origin I team on Monday and former Maroons forward Sam Thaiday said McGuire deserved selection, even if he did not face Parramatta, after being named Queensland's player-of-the-series last year.
"He is a great representative player," Thaiday said.
"He can get right in there if need be and slot into an Origin position without playing too much footy.
"Josh is a fairly tough player but something he relies upon is his footwork.
"He is not the big front-rower he used to be, he can't throw his size around. He needs that footwork to help him out a little bit.
"He will be pushing to play, but it's only a short week."
Kahu has missed nine games after having to undergo two operations on his shattered jaw.
He will replace Tom Opacic at left centre, with rookie Kotoni Staggs to remain in the bench utility role.
Thaiday said Kahu was physically fine but had to be mentally prepared to return from a jaw injury.
"The hardest thing coming back from a broken jaw is getting your head right," he said.
"Physically, I think he is ready and has been chomping at the bit for the last two weeks.
"It's all about getting through some contact stuff and seeing how he goes from there."
Prop George Fai has been named to play his first game of the season as a replacement for Korbin Sims (broken jaw), however he could drop out of the team if McGuire is ruled fit.