Deflated Daley counts the Origin injury toll

NEW South Wales coach Laurie Daley had the blues yesterday after learning he had lost Manly fullback Brett Stewart and possibly Dragons winger Brett Morris for game one of this year's State of Origin series.

Stewart was rated no chance for the June 5 clash at ANZ Stadium after scans revealed a chipped bone in his lower back would keep him sidelined for at least four weeks.

Morris faces a race against time after having arthroscopic surgery yesterday to remove torn cartilage from his knee.

Dragons high-performance director Andrew Gray said he expected Morris to be out for between two and four weeks, dependent on how the winger recovered from surgery.

The injuries, from Monday night's game between the teams, have opened the door for in-form Rabbitohs winger Nathan Merritt, who has scored a total of 146 tries in 208 NRL games, to make his Origin debut at age 29.

Parramatta co-captain Jarryd Hayne, on the wing for the Blues last year, is likely to switch to fullback, with Newcastle try-scorer Ukuila Uate the favourite to grab a wing berth.