A knee injury has NSW enforcer Payne Haas in major doubt for the State of Origin opener while Nicho Hynes' stocks soared higher in Melbourne's 40-12 defeat of Brisbane.
Off-contract fullback Hynes, linked to a move to Brisbane next season, starred in a potential job audition at Suncorp Stadium as the Storm on Thursday stretched their run of wins by 13 points or more to a new NRL high of nine games.
Haas limped off in the 51st minute with a knee injury, reportedly facing between two and four weeks on the sidelines to be at long odds to play for the Blues in the June 9 opener and even in danger of missing game two on June 27.
The rampaging forward had impressed in the first half for an improved Brisbane, who had beaten the Sydney Roosters last week in their best showing under new coach Kevin Walters, who admitted he's in "serious doubt" for the Origin opener.
But Brisbane were their own worst enemies, Anthony Milford the main offender in a first-half performance that saw the off-contract five-eighth's prospects take another hit.
In the final months of his four-year deal worth nearly $1 million a season, Milford has already been dropped twice this year and looked devoid of confidence in an error-riddled performance.
His passes missed the mark just as space was created on the flanks, while he stuck a foot out to stop a short kick that bounced into the path of try-scorer Tui Kamikamica.
He then darted a pass out of dummy half at the shoelaces of Jesse Arthars, the knock-on leading to a Josh Addo-Carr try from the ensuing set.
His confidence shot, Milford seemed reluctant to even receive the ball on the final play before halftime with the score 16-0 and was replaced in the 68th minute.
"Nobody gets a new deal after tonight's performance ... it's not just Milf it's everyone with their consistency," Walters said of his five-eighth's prospects of earning another contract at Red Hill.
"Melbourne never beat themselves and that's one of the traits we used to have here at this club.
"We didn't give ourselves a chance tonight, as good as the Storm were."
It got worse in the first set of the second-half, Tevita Pangai Jnr's risky offload fumbled twice by Broncos before George Jennings picked up the loose ball and pushed the lead beyond 20 points.
Cooper Johns' first NRL try came hot on its heels, Hynes again breaking the line and floating a pass that appeared forward to the son of Matthew Johns in his fourth game.
Brandon Smith scored two of his own and set up Hynes with a flat, long pass as the Storm again made light of the key absences of Cameron Munster, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Harry Grant and Christian Welch.
Melbourne maintained their incredible 12-year winning streak over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium as they prepare to extend their stint away from home beyond two weeks thanks to another COVID-19 outbreak in their home state.
"There was room there for them to make an excuse," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
"It was our fourth away game in a row, so I'm proud tonight that they turned up with plenty of effort in them."