NSW halfback Nathan Cleary has been ruled out for up to a month, likely robbing him of his chance to turn out in the State of Origin decider.
While the Penrith playmaker has avoided surgery after being diagnosed with a lateral ankle injury, he appears long odds to be fit for the July 10 Origin clash at ANZ Stadium.
Cleary suffered the injury in the first half of the Blues' resounding game two win in Perth on Sunday but failed to take the field in the final 40 minutes.
The Panthers said the injury was high grade and he is expected to miss up to four weeks.
Wade Graham appears the likely candidate to partner James Maloney in the NSW halves after the Cronulla back-rower's superb performance filling in for Cleary in the second half NSW's 38-6 win.
Maloney has backed a recall for former teammate Mitchell Pearce, who was tipped to be recalled for game two before he ruled himself out with groin and hip injuries.
Pearce disputed rumours that he had turned down the Blues jersey, after also being unavailable for game one because of injury.
"I put my hand up for the last game too - all this conjecture about that - obviously I'd love to play," Pearce said on Tuesday.
"They obviously just had a massive win and I'm not too sure which way they'd be looking.
"But, yes, of course."
Coach Brad Fittler will announce his side after this weekend's round of the NRL.