Kalyn Ponga has been ruled out of State of Origin this year in another blow to the Maroons’ backline stocks.
It had been widely reported that, despite being named in Wayne Bennett’s initial 15-man Origin squad announcement, Ponga would miss the 2020 series, and the reports were today confirmed.
Instead of running out for Queensland, the Newcastle fullback will undergo shoulder surgery next week to repair a torn labrum, and he’ll be fit for Round 1 of the 2021 NRL season.
“Based on advice from Kalyn’s treating surgeon, and our assessment, Kalyn should be medically ruled out of this year’s Origin series,” Maroons doctor Matt Hislop said.
“This decision is in both his and the team’s best interests, and will give him the best opportunity to recover and be ready for next year’s season.”
“I’m devastated to miss out on Origin,” Ponga said.
“I love pulling on the Maroons jersey. It is a privilege to play in the NRL and a privilege to be selected to represent Queensland.
“As an athlete and competitor, I pride myself on performing no matter how my body feels but I also accept that both the Maroons and Knights medical staff have my best interest at heart in making this decision.
“I wish the Queensland camp all the best for a successful 2020 series. I’ll be cheering loudly from home and will be working tirelessly to earn my place back in the squad next year.”
Ponga’s absence only adds to the litany of injuries in the Maroons camp. Kyle Feldt, David Fifita and Michael Morgan had all already been ruled out of the entire series before the Knights star joined them in the casualty ward.
With Ponga out injured and Valentine Holmes suspended for Game 1, it now seems certain that Gold Coast Titan AJ Brimson will make his Origin debut wearing the no.1 jersey for the Maroons in the series opener.