Penrith manager Mick Leary says Luke Priddis should be a "walk-up start" for the hooker role if Blues skipper Danny Buderus is ruled out of next month's Origin decider in Brisbane.
Buderus will be out for two to three weeks after tearing ligaments in his right foot during NSW's 32-22 victory over Queensland in Origin II on Wednesday night.
The architect of the 10-point win, champion halfback Andrew Johns, is odds on to take over the NSW captaincy if Buderus fails to recover in time for the Suncorp Stadium decider on July 6.
Priddis wore the No.9 jersey for Australia in its 32-16 win over New Zealand in the Anzac test in April when Buderus was sidelined with shoulder and elbow injuries.
"He should be a walk-up start - he's the incumbent test hooker," said Leary, whose club Penrith has racked up just four wins this season to languish at 13th on the NRL table.
"We're not going good but he is. He's one of the blokes that is putting in each week.
"He wouldn't let anyone down. He's a great footballer and he plays with a lot of passion."
Blues selector Laurie Daley said no player could be considered a walk-up start.
The former test captain said selectors might opt to start Craig Wing at hooker and name Panthers skipper Craig Gower on the bench.
Wing (back) and Queensland lock Chris Flannery (elbow) are rated only a 50-50 chance of playing for the Sydney Roosters against Cronulla at Toyota Park on Friday night.
Leary said NSW winger Luke Rooney would miss Penrith's clash with Melbourne at Olympic Park on Saturday night after suffering a badly corked thigh at Telstra Stadium.
Johns earned all the plaudits for his dominant performance in only his second match back from a broken jaw but Blues coach Ricky Stuart was eager to highlight Buderus' contribution.
"Andrew Johns doesn't play anywhere near the style of game tonight if Danny Buderus doesn't aim up and play the game he did," Stuart said at the post-match press conference.
"The combination these two have got is just an amazing thing to watch - I've never seen any better."
Unfortunately for the Blues, it's a combination which is likely to be broken up for the decider.
Buderus will wear a specially-made boot similar to one he wore earlier in the year while he recovered from a toe injury.
Meanwhile, former Maroons and test winger Wendell Sailor predicted Johns could dominant at an elite level for another five years.
"A bloke like that could play at age 35 or 36 if he was smart and good enough," said Sailor.