Brad Fittler will challenge NSW to let their horror injury toll inspire them after Tom Trbojevic became the fifth Blue to go down inside 14 days.
Fittler had his worst fears confirmed on Saturday with news Trbojevic's State of Origin hopes were gone and his season almost certainly over after dislocating his shoulder in Manly's loss to Parramatta on Friday night.
The superstar fullback-turned-centre in Origin is still awaiting results of scans, but there are fears he could miss at least three months depending on the damage.
His injury comes with Latrell Mitchell also set to miss the June 8 series-opener with his hamstring injury from earlier this year.
Likely utility option and backline replacement Ryan Papenhuyzen is also set to be unavailable after suffering knee and hamstring injuries two weeks ago.
Lock Cameron Murray (shoulder) is aiming to return in time but fellow middle forwards Dale Finucane (knee) and Victor Radley (ankle) have also been sidelined in the past fortnight.
"Hopefully Latrell will be fit and play a part in the Origin series somewhere, but as it seems at the moment Tom won't be," Fittler said.
"They're big personalities and that's what State of Origin is all about.
"(Trbojevic's injury) is awful (news).
"He was starting to look good and he was coming up with some big plays. He's had a tough couple of years.
"The one thing that I do know is that Origin always sets up great moments and great occasions.
"So the fact we'll be down a couple means we'll have to turn it into a great occasion."
The NSW State of Origin coach had admitted he had some concerns over Trbojevic's knee before Friday night's clash, but those were blown away when he was Manly's best before his shoulder injury.
Fittler was at CommBank Stadium for the match but did not have a chance to speak to a disappointed Trbojevic in Manly's sheds as his injury management began.
The NSW squad will be named in just over a week with the Blues to begin entering camp from next Sunday.
Stephen Crichton would likely now be considered a certainty to play on one edge at centre, with Kotoni Staggs every chance of partnering him.
Fittler did not want to tempt fate and discuss options when approached on Friday night, but Matt Burton, Siosifa Talakai, Jack Wighton, Campbell Graham and Zac Lomax are the likely alternatives.
Ryan Matterson, Keaon Kolomatangi and Haumole Olakau'atu are also potential options to debut off the bench in the back row if the current injury crisis continues.
"I don't want to pick (replacements) this week because there's another week to go and there's another five games to go (this round)," Fittler said.
"I think I'll stick to a pencil at the moment."
Australian Associated Press
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