NSW captain Gallen backed for Origin decider

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 14:17 06/07/2013

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Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has backed Paul Gallen to be fit to face Queensland in the State of Origin decider despite the NSW skipper being forced to wear a protective moon boot on his injured left foot until next week.

Blues mentor Laurie Daley will name Gallen in his side for the July 17 showdown at ANZ Stadium on Sunday evening.

However, the lead up to the game will be largely focused on the fitness of the captain who damaged the plantar fascia tissue in the arch of his foot during the 26-6 defeat to Queensland in game two in Brisbane.

The recovery time for such an injury is usually between three to five weeks but Flanagan said Gallen is certain he'll lead out his side in front of a sell-out home crowd as the Blues attempt to win a first series since 2005.

"Gal is really confident ... he was over in the gym today working really hard," Flanagan said.

"He's confident that the foot feels better every day. He takes the boot off next Tuesday and then hopes to train fully with the rest of the NSW team on the Sunday before the Origin."

Daley is set to welcome back Test prop James Tamou after being prevented from selecting him for game two.

Tamou was stood down after being arrested and charged with high-range drink-driving and badly missed by his side in Brisbane as a fired-up Maroons side levelled the series at Suncorp Stadium.

Tamou will pack down with Gallen in the starting front-row with Aaron Woods, who debuted in Brisbane, likely to be named as 18th man.

Prop Andrew Fifita, one of the few Blues players to emerge with any credit after game two maintained his great form on Friday with an all-action display for Cronulla against Wests Tigers.

Fifita ran in two tries including a brilliant 50-metre effort and the 23-year-old is desperate to cap off a fine series with victory on Wednesday.

"Fingers crossed I'll be picked by Laurie," Fifita said.

"But if I am then I'll be doing everything I can to help the boys get up over the line.

"I got booed by the crowd out there in Brisbane which was all good fun but it will be good to have our crowd behind us this time."

Jarryd Hayne will return at fullback after his storming performance in the series opening victory at ANZ Stadium.

Hayne missed game two due to a hamstring injury and hasn't played for almost a month.

The 2009 Dally M Medallist has been included in the Eels side to face Manly on Monday and his Blues recall may see Josh Dugan moved out to the wing to replace Nathan Merritt who struggled on debut in Brisbane.

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Possible NSW team: Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Josh Dugan, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Paul Gallen (capt), Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Luke Lewis, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Bird. Interchange: Anthony Watmough, Andrew Fifita, Trent Merrin, Josh Reynolds. 18th man Aaron Woods.

- AAP

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