Daly Cherry-Evans's chances of captaining Queensland remain alive but could require a return from injury directly into the Origin arena as the Manly skipper faces up to six weeks on the sidelines.
A syndesmosis strain to his right ankle is expected to keep Cherry-Evans out for the next 4-6 weeks after he met with specialists on Monday.
No official announcement has yet been made by the Sea Eagles as their captain underwent surgery on Tuesday, but Manly insiders are hopeful the corrective operation will not delay his recovery.
A return within six weeks for Cherry-Evans would be among the fastest turnarounds seen for syndesmosis surgery, but it is one former Sea Eagles teammate Kieran Foran is also pushing to pull off at Canterbury with his own recovery well ahead of schedule.
With Origin I five weeks away and Kevin Walters picking his Maroons side a week earlier, the recovery time frame could leave Cherry-Evans with no chance for a return at club level before the June 5 series opener.
Manly play the Titans in round 11, a month from now on a Friday night, the last round before Queensland goes into camp for game one.
Walters has navigated high-profile injury concerns to the likes of Billy Slater, Josh McGuire and Cooper Cronk in Maroons camp before during his tenure, but bringing Cherry-Evans in cold off a month-long injury would be a serious leap of faith.
The Mackay product has been in superb touch for Manly in their surprise run to sixth on the ladder, before limping from the field early in the second half of Sunday's 24-20 win over Canberra.
Cherry-Evans, 30, returned to the Maroons fold for the first time since 2015 in game three last year, and was considered favourite to take on the state captaincy due to his sterling form this season and Greg Inglis's sudden retirement.
Should Cherry-Evans be scratched from Origin I, Cowboys skipper Michael Morgan would come into contention for both the No.7 jersey and captain's armband.
Fellow utility Ben Hunt is another option at the scrumbase alongside Melbourne's Cameron Munster, who Walters has described as a potential long-term captain for the Maroons.