Ian McCullough June 19, 2012
NSW assistant coach Trent Barrett says NSW have the depth to cope with the loss of Glenn Stewart for next month's State of Origin decider.
Stewart was diagnosed with a partial tear to the medial ligament in his left knee late on Tuesday evening that will sideline him for between three and four weeks - ruling him out of selection for the July 4 encounter at Suncorp Stadium.
Barrett said earlier that the 2011 Clive Churchill Medal winner would be given up until the eve of the game to prove his fitness with the early prognosis claiming it may only be a strain.
But the club confirmed on Tuesday night that Stewart would miss up to a month.
Barrett admitted earlier that the 2011 Clive Churchill Medal winner's unavailability would be a huge blow as the Blues look to win a first series since 2005.
"We'll be okay but he'd be a huge loss. He's a very important part of our side," Barrett said.
Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman and St George Illawarra's Beau Scott would be candidates to replace Stewart, as is his Manly teammate Tony Williams who is recovering from a back injury sustained in Origin I.
"Ryan's there and there's also Beau Scott who has been there and done a terrific job for us before and T-Rex may be fit," Barrett said.
"We've got some options."
NSW back-rower Luke Lewis admits the injury to Stewart is a body blow for the Blues.
"We've got a great bunch of blokes and everyone gets on well and it wouldn't be the same without him."
"He's played a lot of footy and played in a lot of big games and has been a vital part of the NSW team."