Queensland selectors have named 15 players to join the Maroons squad for the 2020 State of Origin series, including Kalyn Ponga.
The Newcastle fullback, however, is under a dark injury cloud. He’s currently nursing a torn labrum and is due to see a surgeon on Thursday before a final call is made on his availability.
The players are selected solely from the ten NRL sides whose seasons are over, with more to fill out what will eventually be a 27-man group in the coming weeks. The Titans have the most representatives with four players selected (Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Phillip Sami), with three from the Knights (Ponga, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt), and two each from the Dragons (Ben Hunt and Josh Kerr), Broncos (Patrick Carrigan and Xavier Coates) and Cowboys (Valentine Holmes and Coen Hess).
The Sea Eagles (Daly Cherry-Evans) and Tigers (Harry Grant) both have one player selected apiece.
What’s clear is Bennett will field a markedly different side to the one Kevin Walters picked for Game 3 last year. In addition to the injured Michael Morgan and David Fifita, all of Joe Ofahengaue, Corey Norman, Moses Mbye, Corey Oates and Josh McGuire have not been selected in the squad.
However, Bennett lauded the group selected so far.
“We’ve got an exciting mix of both emerging and seasoned talent in the squad so far and we’re really pleased to be able to announce this group today after what has been a challenging period for the game,” he said.
The Maroons also confirmed a change to their coaching staff, with Neil Henry replacing Justin Hodges as an assistant.
Queensland will add further players to their squad as more teams are eliminated from the NRL finals.
Jai Arrow – Gold Coast Titans
AJ Brimson – Gold Coast Titans
Moeaki Fotuaika – Gold Coast Titans
Phillip Sami – Gold Coast Titans
Valentine Holmes – North Queensland Cowboys
Coen Hess – North Queensland Cowboys
Xavier Coates – Brisbane Broncos
Patrick Carrigan – Brisbane Broncos
Edrick Lee – Newcastle Knights
Hymel Hunt – Newcastle Knights
Kalyn Ponga – Newcastle Knights
Ben Hunt – St George Illawarra Dragons
Josh Kerr – St George Illawarra Dragons
Harry Grant – Wests Tigers/Melbourne Storm
Daly Cherry-Evans – Manly Sea Eagles