Following a herculean return to the training track after just a fortnight off after shoulder surgery, South Sydney skipper Cameron Murray must remain in Brad Fittler's Blues blueprint for Origin I according to Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook.
After going under the knife following Souths' Round 9 loss to the Broncos at home, Murray was back partaking in drills at Redfern on Wednesday.
However, the hardnosed lock was asked to don a non-contact bib ahead of an upcoming fitness test prior to Saturday's kick-off against Wests at Accor Stadium.
While Murray will be put through his paces in the coming days, Cook contended that the seven-time Blue's credits at representative level would likely keep him in contention for the series opener, even if he failed to face the Tigers in Round 12.
“I just hope that with Cam the type of person is ... he’s 100 per cent right to go and not pushing anything (for Saturday),” Cook was quoted by The Canberra Times.
“Freddy (Fittler) would know that Cam is going to do the job in Origin.
“He’s very professional about everything he does. He’s only been off for a couple of weeks. and been training hard anyway.
“I don’t think that (the Wests game) is something that Cam needs with the type of player he is and the type of person he is.”
With seasonal averages of 112.3 run metres, 44.5 tackles and 1.6 tackle busts across his nine outings this season, Murray has remained at his scintillating best, even if his side has failed to reach their lofty heights of 2021.
Should the local junior's joint remain troublesome and Fittler be forced to look elsewhere to fill the seismic void in his second row, the Chooks and Panthers great won't be without options.
And while 'Freddy' will clearly be running the rule over a litany of centre options - including Matt Burton, Katoni Staggs and Stephen Crichton - ahead of Sunday, Cook stressed that Campbell Graham's name should also remain in contention.
“He (Graham) is our best player this year by far,” Cook said.
“You talk about Origin and coming off your line for most of the game ... Campbell Graham is someone I look to as my go-to man to get us out of trouble.
“He’s one of the best defensive centres in the game at the moment too.”
And having crossed the chalk on three occasions off an average of 138 metres, the fellow local junior must be content with his output, irrespective of Souths' comparatively chequered season so far.
Both Murray and Graham will be afforded one final chance to place their best feet forward when they face the Tigers at 5:30pm (AEST) on Saturday.