Jarome Luai is confident a halves combination with the man he competed with in the lead-up to Origin I - Nicho Hynes - is the answer after Nathan Cleary was ruled out for the remainder of the 2023 series on Monday.
Scan results confirmed the worst for Cleary and the Blues with coach Brad Fittler now on the lookout for a new halfback to possibly partner Luai, who was solid in the series opener and is likely to keep his spot in Game Two.
The Blues have several options to choose from with the likes of Cody Walker, Matt Burton, Adam Reynolds and Mitchell Moses in form and pushing incumbents Luai and Hynes with the series on the line.
However, after competing with Hynes for an Origin I spot, and then playing alongside him in the series opener, Luai believes the pair could work together well for the must-win clash at Suncorp Stadium.
"We've still got another game to play before the next Origin game but if that's the conversation with Nicho and I, we'd be pretty keen to link up there," Luai told NRL.com.
"He's obviously been unbelievable for his club and didn't get a lot of game time the other night but it'd be cool to play alongside him.
"Opportunities are going to come up when you don't expect it so you just need to be ready to perform and adapt. It's unfortunate for Nath but he'll be back and I'm confident we can do a job without him."
Panthers v Dragons - Round 14, 2023
Meanwhile, Luai said players were used to being in the firing line after an Origin loss following criticism levelled at the likes of Cleary and Blues captain James Tedesco for their individual performances.
Cleary looked on song early setting up a try on Sunday night before his injury while Tedesco produced a strong effort with two tries and an assist in the Roosters' win over Canterbury only hours earlier.
"I think everyone is just used to him being a 12 out of 10 every week," Luai said of Tedesco.
"That's our skipper... he's always there when times are tough and when they're going good.
"You're going to cop it when you lose in that arena and you need to wear that if you don't get the job done because it's a privilege to be there. You've just got to expect that it's going to come your way.
"When he's on he's one of the best player in the comp. I'll back him any day of the week, but I can't talk him up next week. We've got to do a job on him."
Match: Roosters v Panthers
Round 15 -
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney