Queensland coach Paul Green is rolling the dice with injured trio Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Harry Grant.
Green on Monday announced a 20-man squad as a result of injury scares across the Maroons’ side.
There were several surprises in the squad, which only includes one debutant — Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt.
Ponga was ruled out of Newcastle‘s clash against Manly on Sunday with an ongoing groin injury.
He will be racing the clock to prove his fitness for the traditional interstate clash and is the key piece in the Maroons’ 17.
The question marks around Queensland’s biggest stars has forced Green to include an extended squad with AJ Brimson, Coen Hess and Kyle Feldt reported to be the three players that will miss out on selection — if the rest of the squad is cleared to play in the series opener on June 9.
Brimson is also under an injury cloud after he was unable to finish the Titans’ game against the Sharks on Sunday.
Related: Queensland’s Origin coup in broad daylight
Kalyn Ponga’s selection is still a mystery.Source:AAP
According to reports Brimson is on standby should Ponga or Munster be unavailable. Ponga will move from fullback to five-eighth should Munster miss out.
Rugby league legend Matty Johns on Sunday said Ponga’s potential move to the No. 6 jumper would be a tough assignment.
“The question is, if you haven’t got a lot of football under your belt and you’re asking someone to suddenly go into the front line of defence, it’s a big ask,” he said.
The gambles in the Queensland team include:
— Munster being selected despite having not played since Round 9 as a result of a foot sprain
— Grant being moved to the bench behind Reed Maroney as a result of a hamstring injury
— Joe Ofahengaue being recalled after being moved on from the Broncos to the Wests Tigers at the end of 2020
— Edrick Lee and Brenko Lee were both unavailable for selection as a result of injuries, allowing Green to pick Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Kurt Capewell and Xavier Coates as his outside backs; and
— Rabbitohs forward Jaydyn Su’A being selected despite being dumped by Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.
Queensland icon Cameron Smith recently made the surprise admission Queensland should overlook Storm No. 9 Harry Grant for the season opener.
Smith last week said Parramatta’s Reed Mahoney should start at No. 9 — forcing Grant onto the bench, despite his heroics in Queensland’s 2020 series win.
“Right now, given Harry has only played the five games – he didn’t play the start of the year with a knee injury, he’s now off the park with a hamstring injury – and Reed’s played every game this year and playing really well, you’d probably start with Reed.
It comes after NSW coach Brad Fittler announced his team for the series opener, with the Blues going into camp in Coogee, Sydney.
The team features three debutants.
Queensland predicted team for State of Origin Game 1
1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Valentine Holmes
3 Dane Gagai
4 Kurt Capewell
5 Xavier Coates
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
8 Christian Welch
9 Reed Mahoney
10 Jai Arrow
11 David Fifita
12 Felise Kaufusi
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Harry Grant
15 Moeaki Fotuaika
16 Joe Ofahengaue
17 Jaydn Su’A
Reserves: 18 AJ Brimson, 19 Coen Hess, 20 Kyle Feldt.
NSW official team for State of Origin Game 1
1. James Tedesco (c)
2. Brian To’o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Cameron Murray
12. Tariq Sims
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Jack Wighton
15. Junior Paulo
16. Payne Haas
17. Liam Martin
18. Apisai Koroisau
19. Campbell Graham
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