Gasnier's Origin hopes clouded by bug - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier's Origin hopes clouded by bug

By Philip Henderson 16/05/2006 06:23:03 PM Comments (0)

Mark Gasnier's odds of being fit for next week's State of Origin series-opener lengthened with the NSW rugby league centre struck down by a stomach bug.

Already battling to overcome a hip injury before next Wednesday's clash with Queensland at Telstra Stadium, Gasnier's Origin preparations hit another hurdle when he was a notable absentee from the Blues' first training session under rookie Origin coach Graham Murray.

The news was far better for Matt Cooper (hamstring) and Luke O'Donnell (rib), NSW's two other injury concerns, with both players completing a light session at Coogee Oval.

Murray said he did not know how serious Gasnier's illness was, but when asked whether he was concerned replied: "Yes, but so's his mum.

"Mark's got a stomach bug so he's training indoors. I don't know how serious it is, he's just ill."

Murray was quick to avert talk of a potential row between the NSW camp and NRL clubs Penrith and Parramatta over the availability of wingers Luke Lewis (Panthers) and Eric Grothe (Eels) this weekend.

Lewis and Grothe have been drafted into the Blues camp as cover for Gasnier and Cooper with a decision on the fitness of both Dragons stars' to be made later this week.

But with the Panthers and Eels to square off on Friday night, both clubs have demanded to know by Wednesday afternoon at the latest whether their players will be available for NRL action.

Murray said he was happy to work with the clubs on the issue, and was open to the idea of allowing both players to go back to their clubs for their match-eve training sessions on Thursday.

"I'm easy to work with the clubs, I'm not someone who's hard to work with," said Murray, who added he hoped to make a decision on Gasnier and Cooper's availability before Friday.

Murray was confident O'Donnell would be ruled fit before the end of the week, although Sydney Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon is understood to be on standby should the Cowboys lock's problem persist.

"(O'Donnell's) no different than to what he was last week, he was a bit sore, and he's going to have a bit if a run (at training) but nothing too physical today," Murray said.

"I'm sure he'll be okay at the back end of the week."

While new to the Origin arena, Murray was in a whimsical mood ahead of his first training run with the Blues.

Asked whether he knew referee Sean Hampstead - appointed to control game one today - had any pet hates or pet loves he was aware of, Murray deadpan replied: "... probably mice".

Meanwhile, Blues prop Willie Mason told how he walked away from an altercation at a Kings Cross' McDonald's restaurant just hours before the NSW team was named Monday morning.

Mason has already been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident after an investigation by the ARL.

"Some bloke called me a black C," Mason told reporters.

"If I hit the bloke I'd be front-page news wouldn't I, but I just said mate you're an idiot."

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