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Nathan Cleary ‘very unlikely’ to play Origin II after hamstring injury

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Nathan Cleary’s hopes of playing for NSW in Game II of State of Origin hinge on the outcome of scans on Monday after he limped out of Penrith’s 26-18 win over St George Illawarra.

Cleary, who was part of the Blues side that lost the series opener in Adelaide, pulled up in pain after just 15 minutes at Penrith Stadium.

Penrith are hopeful the halfback has suffered a “low-grade” strain but it leaves the prized number 7 in severe doubt to face the Maroons at Lang Park on June 21.

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“I’m not a doctor, but it’s a significant injury,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.

“We’ll get it scanned tomorrow so we’ll learn more but I think he’s very unlikely.

“If he’s ready, I’d love him to play Origin. But it’s gunna be one of those injuries, it’s a soft tissue injury so you can either play or you can’t really.”

Nathan Cleary is critical to Brad Fittler’s plans as the Blues fight to save the series in Brisbane for the first time in Origin history.

“It’s tough to speculate on the seriousness of it before he’s got scans,” NSW adviser Greg Alexander said in commentary for Fox Sports.

“But looking at those images, I guess everyone at Penrith is trying to be as positive as possible and hoping it’s low-grade. I’m hoping [for] the same thing.”

Fittler and Alexander would likely plump for Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes, who made his Origin debut from the bench on Wednesday, with Parramatta’s Mitch Moses and Brisbane’s Adam Reynolds possible understudies.

Cleary looked to have no signs of rust from the Origin opener, setting up winger Brian To’o with a floating cut-out pass in the 11th minute after a Zac Lomax penalty.

“I guess when you back players up there’s always a bit of a risk, but he showed no signs of anything,” Cleary said.

Just after the halfback pulled up sore, Mikaele Ravalawa crashed in at the corner for the Dragons.

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