Some disappointing news for Queensland NRL fans today, with confirmation star fullback Kalyn Ponga has been ruled out of the State of Origin opener.
The 23-year-old has been battling to overcome an ongoing groin problem and ultimately failed a last-minute fitness test on Wednesday morning.
“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 in a statement a short time ago.
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Ponga has been out of action since the Newcastle Knights Round 9 win over the Raiders.
It’s a massive blow for the Maroons, who are now working to finalise Ponga’s replacement.
There’s talk Cowboys star Valentine Holmes will wear the No.1 jersey, with Gold Coast Titans fullback AJ Brimson reportedly set to be used as a bench utility.
Kyle Feldt is tipped to make his Origin debut on the wing, with Xavier Coates on the other side.
“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.
The series opener will be played at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium next Wednesday after being shifted from Victoria due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.