Hurt Cleary to be given every hope by NSW

Injured NSW halfback Nathan Cleary should soon know whether he will be fit to play in Origin III. (AAP)

Injured NSW halfback Nathan Cleary is expected to have a clearer picture of his chances of lining up for State of Origin III by the end of the weekend.

The next 48 hours are expected to be key in NSW playmaker Nathan Cleary's race to prove his fitness for the State of Origin decider.

Cleary has taken small steps in his road to recovery from an ankle injury with those around him including his father and Panthers coach Ivan refusing to rule him out.

His initial diagnosis looked grim after scans revealed he had completely torn a lateral ligament, but given it is not one of the more important ligaments in his foot, he is holding out hope.

He is expected to attempt to run for the first time on Monday, just hours before coach Brad Fittler names his side game three at ANZ Stadium on July 10.

And his chances look set to hinge on that fitness test.

"We don't know too much until the end of the weekend," Ivan said.

"It was good news (he avoided a serious syndesmosis injury). Who knows when he'll be able to play."

Cleary was expected to be out for up to a month and Fittler is likely to heavily base his decision on how much training the 21-year-old can get through during the 10-day camp.

If Fittler does roll the dice on Cleary, the best case scenario will see him train only a few days out from the match.

If he fails to be passed fit as NSW look to secure back-to-back series wins, Blues five-eighth James Maloney has thrown his support behind former teammate Mitchell Pearce being recalled.

Cronulla back-rower Wade Graham has been touted as the leading contender to slot into the halves after he filled in during the second half of the Blues' 38-6 game two win in Perth.

But Graham's versatility is invaluable off the bench and although it would be a gamble to start him in the halves, Sharks coach John Morris was relaxed.

"Wade is just a natural footy player, he's not someone you want to go out there and structure him and play set plays off him," he said.

"He's a really smart footy player, very composed.

"You saw his nice little touches there, he had a try assist down the short side, he just seems to have time around him, a good left-foot kick, a big body and he's a solid defender.

"They saw their game probably went to another level when he went there. There's no doubt Wade could get the job done for NSW."

Source AAP

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