Selection twist after QLD’s savage Ponga blow

Queensland star Kalyn Ponga has been ruled out of the State of Origin opener through injury.

Maroons doctors weren’t confident Ponga could carry an injured groin into the series opener against NSW in Townsville next Wednesday night, and have decided to pull the plug.

“Kalyn has been progressing with his rehab but time is against us and the decision has been made for him to return to the Newcastle Knights where he can focus on further recovery,” team doctor Matt Hislop said.

Ponga’s withdrawal exposed a bizarre scenario for the Knights star, with Nine News’ Ben Dobbin first reporting that Ponga was never any chance to play and was eager to remain in Newcastle

“As I told you last night, Kayln Ponga is out of Origin 1,” Dobbin tweeted.

“Huge out but should never have been named as he was no chance and actually wanted to stay in Newcastle to rehab.”

It’s expected Cowboys star Valentine Holmes will slot into fullback in lieu of Ponga, with Kyle Feldt tipped to come into the Maroons starting line-up on the wing for his Origin debut.

AJ Brimson is another viable option in the No.1 jersey, but with Reed Mahoney released to return to the Eels last night, the Titans star is expected to be used as the bench utility.

“The Maroons will take the field tomorrow for the team’s first main training session, where work will commence to finalise Ponga’s replacement,” the Maroons said in a statement.

Ponga did not travel to Bundaberg yesterday for Queensland’s fan day, staying behind in camp for treatment on his groin.

The star’s withdrawal leaves a huge question mark hanging over his ongoing availability for the series, with reports suggesting he is struggling with his rehabilitation from a groin injury.

Ponga missed the entire 2020 series due to shoulder surgery.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

pin up