Brad Fittler will select Nathan Cleary in his squad for the State of Origin series decider but will give the injured halfback until Thursday to show he will be fit for the July 10 blockbuster at ANZ Stadium.
Fittler, who will announce his squad for Origin III on Monday afternoon, told the Sunday Footy Show that Cleary would be given every chance to prove his fitness after suffering an ankle injury during the 38-6 win over the Maroons in game two in Perth.
"He'll be definitely trying to run by Tuesday and that will be the big indicator," Fittler said.
"He's a link player, so to bring in other link players makes a difference to the cohesion of your squad. We really hope Nathan's fit and healthy.
"Tyson Frizell didn't run [ahead of] game one, when he had the concussion, until about Friday. He was a very important part of our team last year.
"It's all very individual on how long you give someone and I think Nathan, our first real running session will most probably be Thursday. He'll at least have up until then."
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Nine Network
Knights veteran Mitchell Pearce and Sharks co-captain Wade Graham, who filled in superbly in the halves when Cleary went off injured at Optus Stadium, are the main candidates to replace the Penrith playmaker if he cannot be ready for game three.
Blues five-eighth James Maloney is confident his Panthers halves partner will be able to face the Maroons.
"I think there's positive signs as far as I know," Maloney said.
"The swelling was going down, he was getting weight back through it.
"He's been doing everything, 24/7 he's smashing his physio [work] doing everything he can. I'm crossing everything hoping he is alright."
Maloney said Cleary would not risk letting the team down by declaring himself fit to play if his ankle had not healed sufficiently.
"It's a big opportunity to play in a decider back in Sydney, so he will do everything possible, but on the flip side he will make the right call," Maloney said.
"I am sure if he knows he can't do the job he will be the first to put his hand up and say 'look, I'm not good'. I think it's a big ask to take anyone into an Origin game not fully fit and knowing you can do the job.
"I'd be very surprised if you carried someone that wasn't fully fit and ready to go."
Bench forward Tariq Sims is facing a ban which will rub him out of the NSW squad for Origin III for his tackle on Cowboys captain Michael Morgan during St George Illawarra's win in Wollongong on Friday night.
The Dragons and Sims have until midday on Monday to determine their plea but it is expected he will contest the charge at Tuesday night's judiciary hearing.
Knights prop David Klemmer made an impressive return from his wrist injury in Newcastle's win over Brisbane on Saturday night. He is set to be overlooked for the NSW team for Origin III so Knights teammate Daniel Saifiti is likely to retain his place in the squad. If Sims is suspended, Klemmer is likely to get a recall.