The Brisbane Broncos might have lost their last two matches but coach Anthony Griffin has no plans to rush his Queensland representatives Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday and Ben Hannant back for Friday night's showdown with Manly at Suncorp Stadium.
The three star players were notable omissions from the Broncos team when it was announced yesterday, while Jharal Yow Yeh and Corey Parker were named on an extended bench and are expected to play provided they make it through tonight's Origin opener.
Griffin maintained yesterday that Lockyer (neck/shoulder), Thaiday (groin) and Hannant (calf) were all carrying niggling injuries and they would not play regardless of whether they came through tonight's match with a clean bill of health.
The Broncos coach caused a stir when he rested Kangaroos Lockyer, Thaiday and Justin Hodges following the Test against New Zealand from the club's game against Melbourne.
"They've all got injury problems and I think they'll only play one game and that will be the Origin," Griffin said.
"That's just the way we want to handle it. We're managing them through this rep season. I know I've had to explain myself a lot of times but it's something we're measured about and that's the way we're going to handle it."
However, Manly coach Des Hasler said he was preparing his team as if it was facing a Broncos side at full strength.
"I don't know (if Griffin will rest players) so we're just preparing for Brisbane at full tilt," Hasler said.
"But even so, when Brisbane played the Storm (without their stars) they probably should have won.
"Let me tell you a little bit about this Brisbane side . . . people think we're guilty of flying under the radar as a side, but I think Brisbane have been the most impressive side probably along with the Dragons this year.
"They are playing some really good-quality football, their younger players have matured, their defensive record speaks for itself and they're really playing for each other."
The Sea Eagles will face the Broncos without Michael Robertson, whose remarkable run of 139 consecutive first-grade games has come to an end because of an infected knee. Countering his loss will be the return of star fullback Brett Stewart.
"I'm as shocked as anyone," Robertson said. "I remember some discomfort during the match (against the Titans eight days ago) but I didn't think it was serious."