Mitchell Pearce has put his hand up to replace Nathan Cleary but the NSW playmaker remains bullish about his chances of being fit for the State of Origin decider.
Cleary's chances of being picked for game three at ANZ Stadium on July 10 appear slim and fading after he was on Tuesday diagnosed with a lateral ankle sprain which is set to keep him out for up to a month.
It puts him at short odds after going down in the Blues' pivotal game two win on Sunday however on Tuesday he told teammates he was upbeat about his hopes to play.
"My fingers are crossed for him," Panthers teammate James Tamou said.
"I know he'll be there or thereabouts but he should be on the field and be able to finish the series for what he's done for NSW and what he's copped.
"He's pretty positive at the moment."
Cleary suffered the injury in the first half of the Blues' resounding game two win over Queensland but failed to take the field in the final 40 minutes.
The news could have been much worse for the 21-year-old, who it was feared had suffered a syndesmosis injury which could have required surgery.
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 of NSW's 38-6 win in Perth.
Maloney has backed former teammate Pearce, who was tipped to be brought in for game two before he was ruled out with groin and hip injuries, to be given a recall.
Pearce disputed suggestions that he had turned down the Blues jersey after also ruling himself out of game one because of a groin problem.
"I put my hand up for the last game too - all this conjecture about that - obviously I'd love to play," Pearce said.
"They obviously just had a massive win and I'm not too sure which way they'd be looking. But, yes, of course."
Pearce will have a final chance to push for the NSW No.7 jersey, and an Origin series win after failing in his previous seven attempts, against Brisbane on Saturday
"The injury feels good. It was a decent cork, I had a slight hip strain that was bugging me for a few weeks," Pearce said.
"The reason I wasn't able to participate in (Origin II), I wouldn't have been able to train until later in the week and I explained that to the people that mattered.
"I had a light run on Saturday. The freshen up has been good."
Australian Associated Press