Blues wary of Inglis' Origin replacement
Dane Gagai of the Maroons sits on the pitch as NSW Blues players celebrate winning Game 2 of the 2018 State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, June 24, 2018. (AAP Image/David Moir).
He might be stepping into the boots of a Queensland champion, but Dane Gagai will be every bit as dangerous as Greg Inglis when he takes his spot in the centres for State of Origin III.
That's the prediction of NSW pair Damien Cook and Angus Crichton, who have seen firsthand how much firepower Gagai boasts every week for the flying South Sydney NRL side.
Gagai will come off the wing for the first time in his Origin career after Inglis suffered a thumb injury in the Rabbitohs' win over North Queensland on Sunday.
And while Cook admits the absence of Inglis is a major loss for game three, he is adamant Gagai is more than a capable replacement.
"It's obviously a big blow for Queensland. Being the captain this year is a great achievement for (Inglis)," Cook said on Tuesday.
"Obviously he's been such a massive leader for State of Origin on the field. He's been part of some of the biggest moments of the last 10 years or so.
"(But) Gages is going into the centres now, they won't lose too much there."
Gagai emerged as one of the game's premier backline stars after claiming the Wally Lewis medal as the best player in last year's Origin series.
His efforts catapulted him into the Kangaroos team for last year's World Cup triumph.
And he has since gone on to become a pivotal piece in the Rabbitohs' rise to second in the league, averaging 109m a game in a lethal centre-combination with Inglis.
He has also scored nine tries in his nine Origin appearances, including one each in the opening two games of this year's series.
"Dane Gagai will shift straight into the centres and he's another big-game player so they'll still field a strong side, there's no doubt about that," Crichton said.
Chrichton admitted Inglis cut an emotional figure after suffering the injury in Cairns, with scans confirming he is likely to miss six weeks.
"Obviously you hate to see your mates out with injuries like that and miss out on events like Origin, especially with him being the captain. I feel for him in that sense," Crichton said.
"Hopefully it'll be a speedy recovery for him. I don't think it's in the joint, it's broken in the actual bone. So he'll get surgery on that and should be back for the finals."
© AAP 2018